The Evil that Men do

I read Jason’s piece after this other piece of his about SFWA and the functions of SFWA. Because that wasn’t published here, I thought I should mention it to people, before I start bringing together the posts of the last few days.

For those not wishing to click through, Jason starts with a fairly outrageous thought experiment of, would you throw a switch on a runaway train to save five people at the experiment of another person, and then gave that person and those five people various identities.

The thought experiment hit so many people wrong that it was called “juvenile” all without getting to the last bit of the post, which was this:

Take this all into comparison with the current dust-up in SF/F and you might… MIGHT… begin to understand. For some within the SFWA community, battle lines MUST be drawn. The very soul of science fiction is at stake, they’ll argue. It is their job to protect it from racism, sexism, misogyny and whatever other buzzword of the week is.

Finally… back to the philosophical questions posed above. Please, I want you to be honest with me (and yourself) in this matter… but did you even think of asking if there was someone else around who could help you save everyone? Because, despite your protestations otherwise, you are not the moral majority and you do NOT get to decide who lives and who dies. NOBODY has that right. You do not get to choose whether Neil deGrasse Tyson is more important that anyone else, or that anyone else is more important that Dr. Tyson.

Or, in the case of Science Fiction/Fantasy, you do not get to determine what is the heart, and what is the soul, and you definitely don’t get to decide what is good and what is bad.

Note that Jason is almost young enough to be my son. Or could be my son, if I had been precocious and naughty, or else if I’d been married at the age some of my ancestresses were.

I loved that sentence I bolded, because it’s not something that would ever have occurred to my generation or older. The whole function of the publisher was to decide what was good and what was bad. There were not enough slots to publish everything, and therefore they chose who (in the literary sense) lived and who died. As my friend Dave Freer pointed out, this was hardest on the top ten percent of submissions who were probably good enough to be published but didn’t “fit what we’re looking for.” As someone who got this answer (personal, so it wasn’t just a dismissal) from the very first short story, I’ll endorse this and add something: the problem with my early stories was that I was writing in a highly individual style, partly due to my background. I reshaped my voice to fit the market to such a point that I could not now recapture that young voice. I think I’m better now, but I would think that anyway. I wonder what an explosion of voices and styles the fact that we can go to the public directly will lead to. But that’s a side excursion.

The point is that right now, even as to the quality of the story, you don’t have to go through anyone who judges whether you’re worthy.

Certainly a lot of the things people publish seem to me well-nigh unreadable. And certainly I’ve found myself wondering if fans were quite sane. This was long before electronic indie. Someone local had written and published, at enormous expense, a book which she read excerpts of at a con. To say they were atrociously bad would be mean, but they were pretty d*mn close. They reminded me of my own very early efforts, say, circa 11: a pastiche of fan imitation and lack of technique, such as how to convey something in the book is supposed to be funny.

This woman had fans. It might have been the theme which involved unusual romance, but she had fans.

I’m not a snob, but I sat there thinking “How? How even?”

However the point is I went through the mill and I was taught what “publishable” is. She wasn’t. Was she good? I don’t think so, but who knows? A million styles will undoubtedly come through now, and some might be pleasing to readers. That’s fine by me.

So, if this judgment is so hard to make, what about moral judgments, the sort SFWA is trying to make, of who is good and who is bad, and to whom and to whose ideas should Science Fiction belong?

Supposing she were alive, and tied to train tracks, would you throw a switch to save Marion Zimmer Bradley from being killed by a runaway train? What if the switch sent the train to the tracks where Resnick and Malzberg are tied together?

I know the answer of the glittery hoo-ha Social Justice Workers, but what is YOUR answer?

The answer of SFWA of course should be that it gets all its members into those tracks at speed to untie all three and pull them to safety. In a metaphorical sense, this is exactly what SFWA was supposed to do in a system which was inherently unfair to the writer.

Moral arbitration never came into it, and it only comes into it now because the people currently in charge of SFWA both think they have all the answers and are stupid enough to think that history is uni-directional and runs in the direction of their beliefs. I’m tempted to say they’ll grow up, but some are my age, and those who aren’t are only ten years younger and ten years ago I knew better.

Moral arbitration requires a system it doesn’t and can’t have, one that looks at the evidence and filters hearsay, one that determines if a crime or even something morally repulsive occurred. It is not “the court of public opinion.”

Dr. Pournelle commented on Jason’s post yesterday. Normally I’d link it here, but I’m away from home, en route to Liberty con, and accessing the comments is something that would take me an hour, otherwise I’d quote his comment. What he said was to the extent that neither he nor Poul Anderson who knew MZB well ever saw evidence of evil-doing, or even indications thereof, and that even the case against her husband seemed a whole lot shakier.

I’m an admirer of Dr. Pournelle, and also, I hope, a friend, and knowing him I would believe his judgment over, even, that of other witnesses. But as my friend Dave Freer answered in comments, no pedophile in their right mind would show even hints of such behavior around Dr. Pournelle or Poul Anderson (whom I’ve never met, so I’m guessing from his books.)

The same as various people are testifying, seemed to be the case with Ed Krammer, founder of Dragon Con, whom various unimpeachable (and not leftist – which is important because people who lionize Che have no more standing. Che’s biography reads, to steal from Grosse Pointe Blank, “like a demon’s resume” but they wear him on t-shirts and hang up posters of him) figures in science fiction were convinced was innocent and came forward to defend.

Does this mean there is a chance MZB was innocent?

Let’s talk about innocent, shall we.

First of all, there should be a defense called “Whilst the balance of society was out of its ever-loving mind.”

It is neither politic nor possibly kind to bring it up here, but in the seventies various authorities who should be hung by the thumbs till dead, were convinced sex with adults was good for children and kept them from being frustrated and such. Yes, this is wrong and here I’m going to say it’s objectively wrong. I have more in common with Jason than I’d like to discuss right here, right now, though in my case, its being a family friend and my not being able to convey to anyone what had happened, at least the authorities didn’t make it worse by taking me away. (He eventually drifted away – I’d grown too old for him – and my parents didn’t find out until he died and his own daughters talked about what he’d done to them, at which point I told my mom – I doubt my dad still knows to this day. The theme surfaces in some of my stories, which I hope no one thinks means I’m advocating it.)

Our current stand is perhaps a little too hysterical in the other direction, though. Please, don’t throw things at me. I am not, nor will I ever, advocate sex with children under or just past puberty, and frankly, as a human being of middle years, the thought of sex with anyone my kids’ age (well beyond age of consent) is puzzling, because what could you possibly have in common with them? BUT I’m sick and tired of moral preening and outrage when some guy gets caught with a woman a few months below the age of consent. Yes, there’s a power imbalance. Yes, there is to an extent an adult “taking advantage” of someone younger. But that way goes the thought of the SJW’s and ends with all PIV being rape, because power imbalances in societies, oh, noes.

The fact is we don’t grow a visible (or invisible) mark of adulthood when we turn eighteen. In fact adulthood at eighteen is a fiction, and a crazy one. Some of my worst mistakes which were largely due to stupid immaturity came in my twenties. I was older than my years in some ways and a moral infant in others.

You need a convenient dividing line, and it’s been set at 18. Fine. I don’t intend to buck it (see where I have no interest in anyone under 40 or, really, anyone but my husband.)

But be aware of how extremely the pendulum has swung. Yes, in the seventies, reputable (and very Marxist, which was part of it, because of thinking of people as not having a moral dimension) thinkers thought sex with children was not only a okay, but might be beneficial.

There is a distressing tendency in SF/F to throw in with the latest scientific obsession, and some hint of that came across to me from MZB’s disposition – that “I traveled so far in my thought that I lost my bearings” bewildered tone of “Some people might be mature enough for sex at—”

While this did not excuse her turning a blind eye in Breen’s case, it does explain the circumstances of it, assuming that she were innocent of it herself.

Guys, it’s no use whatsoever pretending our people aren’t weird, and sexually weird, as well as in other ways, and that part of our weirdness is driven by “thinking too much.”

There is a book called House of Redgrave, which so far as I knew is not available in ebook in the US, or at least it wasn’t a few weeks ago, when I looked. It is the “biography” of actress Vanessa Redgrave, or perhaps of her family. My son and I stumbled on a review of it at the same time. The review described a scene of Vanessa coming in and finding her husband and father in bed together. According to the reviewer, her father said, “Darling, what is the problem? You love him, I love him—”

It came up in conversation with my son (my son is 22 and, yep, we often discuss cultural stuff and weirdness) and he said, “The worst part is that I can imagine hearing the same story at a con, and at least half the time the ending wouldn’t be that she ran screaming from the room. No, it would be “and I thought about it, and he was right, so we’ve been living in a threesome for 20 years, but it’s all right, because my dad and I don’t do anything, we just share whateverhisnameis.”

And you know what, he’s absolutely right. Our field – mostly fandom, though there are some authors too – has some of the most… ah… interesting amorous arrangements in history. Most of this falls under the heading of group marriage, as I found out as I made what I thought was a joke about it at a con, by saying that polygamy was its own punishment and found more than one line marriage among the audience. (All of them offended.)

It takes very smart people to try something that crazy and make it work. Now, as far as I know, those are all adults, and no, I’m not putting it on a level as child rape, but while normal people would recoil from line marriages, among our people you are likely to find them accepted and have to worry about offending them. From that point, it’s easy to imagine MZB thinking there were circumstances under which a bit of pedophilia was excusable, if not morally justified.

Then there is hearsay. I presume the depositions are authentic. They have that feel. And please don’t think I’m impugning MZB’s daughter, I’m sure difficult, coming out with her own story. I believe this is all true, simply because it has that feel and it connects with the history other people peripheral to the circle, have talked about.

However, if one wanted to judge, really judge, finally and with the consequences of a court at law, more would be needed. Much more.

Again, I don’t think it applies in this case, but we’ve all heard of false memories, not to mention anything else.

What I’m trying to say here is that it’s possible for us to work and live alongside people who do heinous things and never know they did those heinous things or even suspect something is not quite right.

My parents certainly had no idea what was going on with their old friend who was very careful around them. (My mom should have guessed from what she walked in on, once, but who am I to judge. I might not have guessed, particularly if this was an old friend and I had reason to like him and think him a good person and my daughter were 9, looked like a boy, and I thought her too young for anyone to think of her sexually.) Even though he was abusing their only daughter under their own roof.

Much less could colleagues and even con-friends of various people know what was going on in their private lives.

I despise the “you must distance yourself from” mentality that pervades politics because of that. Ninety percent of the time the horrible blurting one must distance from (or even the horrible reported actions) have been spun to be far more heinous.

The insistence one pass moral judgment on people with whom one associates only in a distant and at a remove way, like colleagues or, more ludicrous, someone who shares SOME of our opinions, is a recipe for witch hunts. Irrational ones.

What happened to Resnick and Malzberg was certainly irrational, and we have young people thinking they were “describing” women in bikini and going on about how hot they were, instead of mentioning in passing how beautiful an editor was, and also committing the unspeakable crime of calling someone a lady.

And it’s equally irrational to tar everyone with child-rape because they didn’t know MZB likely was committing it, and supported her in other capacities.

Which is why that is not what SFWA is supposed to do. Not by any remote, or even insane stretch of the imagination.

It is a professional organization. That’s all it is. If someone is tied to the rail of a bad contract, bad publicity, inability to navigate the world of publishing, it’s supposed to untie them, not throw the switch to someone “more guilty of bad think” or disapproved of by the majority of its members.

Instead, in an age where the aesthetic judgment of publishers is no longer needed nor indeed productive, its chosen to throw its lot behind MORAL judgment and a sort of aesthetic based on politics. I don’t know what that aesthetic is good for, but it’s certainly not for choosing stories that will have broad appeal. (If you were a science fiction writer, my love, you’d know that that particular story was the sort of twaddle written by a precocious/delayed adolescent trying to hit all the right buttons.) And I don’t know what their moral judgment is good for, but I defy anyone sane to explain why one should destroy all books written by someone who – like our president for most of his term – disapproves of gay marriage, (and for the record, I support gay marriage, so this isn’t even an opinion I agree with, just one that is neither criminal nor particularly rare) – while keeping the books of someone who stands accused of child rape by her own daughter.

The book is not the writer. Yes, a certain type of book makes me recoil: books that ADVOCATE (not merely mention or even write about it, says she who got a story rejected 70 places because someone confused describing Roman ephebophilia with advocating it.) pedophilia are among those. As are books whose “moral” is that human beings are the worst creatures on Earth. (Compared to what?) she asks. Other books I have no interest in are noble savage books, that put down Western Civilization in favor of some mythical, untainted culture. (There is never any such thing, all cultures being composed of human beings.)

BUT note I don’t advocate shunning those books. They’re not for me, but some might find value in them.

I don’t advocate shunning the writer, either, unless instruments of justice finer than we, as colleagues and fellow writers, can command, determine the writer is guilty. Then you’re free to recoil, as you would from anyone else, but you don’t have to “distance” yourself anymore than a computer programmer would have to distance themselves if another computer programmer were a mass murderer. Of course, if you know of what happened, and that a court found them guilty, you also shouldn’t write a lauding biography with no mention of it.

But you don’t have to say “my whole field is tainted, woe is me.” I’m neither into pedophilia, nor into line marriage. And the fact that many of the active fans and some of my colleagues are capable of entertaining very weird ideas doesn’t even make my field unique. Almost any “geek field” is like that, part of thinking so much you can believe and/or excuse anything.

You don’t share anything with these people but an avocation. The avocation is not what makes them either call women ladies or sleep with children. (And if you don’t see a difference in “crime” between those two, you might consider having your head examined.)

No organization of writers, in fact no “Consensus of the field” should have an opinion in this. Individual writers may, if they so wish.

As someone who grew up across the sea, thinking of all science fiction writers as gods in their own little Olympus I say, let the evil that men (and women) did be interred with their bones. Judge them only as writers and as colleagues. And be aware other people will judge them differently.

There is no imperative to – universally – like or dislike the same things, or even the same type of things, or even things with the same structure.

My guess is over the next ten years the field will become so aesthetically diverse that the idea of judging the “best sf novel of the year” will be an artifact of a time long gone.

And the idea of judging writers’ work by the writers’ morals or bad think or lack there of is already crazy, and will by then be simply alien, like a fragment of something found on alien ruins which might have been an object used every day, a piece of a spaceship that once landed there, or a rare object d’art a long vanished race thought beautiful.

There will be no way to even guess at its form or function.





333 thoughts on “The Evil that Men do

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. It is much more, I don’t know, coolly analytic, and less shrill than many recent posts and comments on the subject (including a few of mine). I think you raise some good points and put things in perspective. Perhaps the various mobs should disperse and put down the torches?

  2. Your “It’s just a professional organization; this is not its job” is cogent and fair. The problem is, the SFWA abandoned that when they started making moral judgments on their own members to the point of banning one of them for thoughtcrime. At that point, they have said, “We are judges of moral rightness” and have opened themselves up for attack on those lines.

    It’s much in the same way that any fan who boycotted and advocated boycotting Orson Scott Card for thoughtcrime is now basically morally obligated to burn all of their MZB books. A fan can say, “I enjoy the work for its own sake, completely separate from the writer’s politics or actions.” But if you pass that kind of judgment on the artist and art, you are now obligated, to be consistent, to continue passing it on others.

      1. I think there is some element of Alinsky-ism being tried here (esp. by Vox Day)… Which is to say, if SFWA is going to ban people based on being icky, then they’d better get with it and ban MZB etc. To wit, force them to live by their own rules.

        I get it. But it doesn’t matter – the whole point of GHH/Liberal/Progressive/Fill-in-the-blank is that they create rules for *you* to live by, not them. They do whatever they want, and justify it one way today, then completely reverse their rationalizations the next day.

        FWIW, I am firmly in the camp of not judging the art by the artist’s… outside interests (unless those interests become part of the art). But insofar as SFWA is concerned, I am in the enviable position of not giving two pieces of dog poop.

        1. I think organizations SHOULD be forced to live by, and up to their own rules.

          By the same token those pushing them should also be held to account.

          We do no one any favors when we allow our tribe to be morally lax but insist that others be strict.

        2. Yup. It’s the hypocrisy and & elitism that is abhorrent. “Our beloved darlings are above reproach, but you are scum and must be excommunicated.”

        3. Oh, Vox is doing it very deliberately indeed, which is why I’ve recently purchased a 20-lb. sack of popcorn and some extra jumbo tubs of butter. He is making them live up to their stated principles, which means they’re going to have to either kick Samuel R. Delany out of SFWA or admit that their crusade against Vox was hypocritical and based on John Scalzi’s personal dislike for the man.

    1. It’s much in the same way that any fan who boycotted and advocated boycotting Orson Scott Card for thoughtcrime is now basically morally obligated to burn all of their MZB books.

      I will agree that those who advocated such a boycott are now morally obligated but I’m not sure that those who chose personally not to read Card bear the same obligation.

      As I put it on the last thread it is up to me to determine with whom I spend time and the method I use to make that determination. If I choose, after this revelation, to not finish my collection of Darkover books and Swords & Sorceress anthologies that’s my choice. My time is limited and much as I decided not to read Pullman’s Dark Design trilogy despite recommendations based on his atheist advocacy with them I can choose to continue to read Bradley (or not).

      I would even argue if asked my opinion I can say “Darkover is so richly written you should at least read Hawkmistress” while saying “Delany is a pervert so I avoid his works.”. It is when it comes to open advocacy that I expect more consistency from people.

      1. “Delany is a pervert so I avoid his works.”

        Perfectly ok, but you could also say “Delany is a hack, who stumbles and mumbles his way thru about a million far too many pages concerned primarily with sticky genitals, while using the word ‘quotidian’ on almost every page, and so I won’t read Dhalgren.”

        That might be more directly to the point when choosing an author to read. Him being a pervert might be incentive for someone else to read him, but a critique of the actual work is more likely to keep people away.


        1. Insert author of your choice and reason of your choice. I choose authors currently in discussion to illustrate which was probably a bad choice. The choice let the current issues obscure my broader point.

      2. My time is linited and much as I decided not to read Pullman’s Dark Design trilogy despite recommendations based on his atheist advocacy…

        One warning: The Daughter liked the first of Pullman’s books, but when he broke the logical structure of his created world to force his position she gave up.

    2. I fear that the Mzb backlash will end up turning into another pogrom against the noncomformists like us. The Left always turns moral panics into an excuse to persecute their opponents.

      1. They use every powerful impulse to grab more power. It’s like water being wet, or ice being cold; just one of those things you keep an eye on and do the best you can anyways.

    3. There is a human tendency to believe, if you have some kind of power over others (whether as publisher, position of influence within an organization, or otherwise), that you must be deserving of that power by virtue of your greater judgement, etc. Thus “power corrupts…”, at least by convincing the holders of power of their right to judge, and the necessity of their doing so. Over time, it’s hard for most people to avoid and likely is responsible for the foolish elitism and judgmentalism of which you write. I know of no remedies but, perhaps, a tradition of humility and term limits.

      1. The “power corrupts” line was about people excusing those with power of their bad behavior.

        If you have power, you have a responsibility to use is properly, responsibly. Yeah, it’s a trope, but it’s also true. Even refusing to make a choice is a choice– and generally a bad one. (Reprogramming the system should be kept in mind as an option, though.)

        1. Doesn’t it all depend on your definition of “responsible”?

          This nation was not based on “responsible” government, it was based on restrained government. The two concepts are often in conflict, as Mayor Bloomfield found out.

          1. If you have power, you’re responsible for how it is used– and refusing to do something is using it. Look at the patent office’s recent decision they would refrain from protecting a currently unpopular trademark.

            That’s why our gov’t must be restrained. Groups simply can’t be trusted to be responsible in their use of power.

            If someone cannot trust themselves to be responsible– or just does not wish to be– they need to get rid of their power. (Or, in the case of gov’t, usually need to have it removed for them……)

            1. (Catching up… Two hundred plus comment emails… Not complaining, just… Wow.)

              By that formulation, people who have power are responsible for its use, the question that arises is: to whom are they responsible? The answer here in the US is either typically the the people or other branches of government.

              That’s been working out super great lately, hasn’t it?

              And actually, I suppose those with power need to be held accountable, but if the people don’t take them to account, the people are the ones responsible.

              Right? > >

              1. It’s the tail-side of power; if you have it, you’re responsible for its use. Like having animals means you control them– but you’re also responsible for them, even if you’d really rather go on a long trip. You simply cannot have power and, at the same time, not have the responsibility for how it is used or not used.

                Sort of like how simply being a live means you have the right to not be killed out of hand.

                Abusing power cannot go on; the getting to where it STOPS can really suck, especially if those who are able to resist it– have the power to do so– do not. (It is, of course, never nice and simple– especially here, folks abusing power will have a justification and the people able to resist will have other considerations than just this ONE specific abuse. Good heavens, how else are the abusive going to get going in a system that is actually designed pretty well to counter abuse?)

                The horrific thing is, even the abuses I’ve heard of– well beyond what’s hit the news– are really small potatoes compared to what is normal for “abuse of power” in general systems. We’ve done really well at limiting the power of the government, largely by making it so even those with power of life and death have it only in one tiny zone. (Which is why constantly expanding gov’t scopes for this or that department are so opposed.)

  3. As Zaklog says, SFWA’s more interested in policing thoughtcrime according to THEIR standards than promoting SF in general. This obviously isn’t going unnoticed, and I have no doubt it will have an effect on their membership numbers. They will certainly not see my money. At one time? Yes they might have – but that ship’s sailed long ago.

    Plus with Indy publishing taking off the way it is, I can’t think of a better way they can render themselves irrelevant.

    It’s sad to see – but reality is what IS, as opposed to a collective fantasy of what SHOULD be that they seem to be trying to impose.

    1. The world of publishing is changing. What does the SFWA have to offer? Is there a point to its existence? Does it even matter? From the descriptions I have been reading it has descended into a censorship board. Has anyone considered that it is about time to abandon the SFWA to those SJWs who have taken it over — and move on?

      1. I think that’s what’s in process. We’ll see what happens. They won’t yield their relevance without a fight, I think – even if they have to fight amongst themselves for tiny scraps of egoboo.

        1. I suggest one minor editorial change:
          They won’t yield their [imagined] relevance without a fight,

  4. I would observe that Heinlein made a very persuasive case for polygamy and line marriage in Mistress. Driven by the conditions of the environment he created, true, but I’ve always suspected he drew from a somewhat similar experiment by the early Mormons.
    John Ringo expounded in great detail over the moral implications of bondage and domination in Ghost, a novel John himself was quick to point out was pure fantasy, but which Jim Baen badgered him to allow Baen to publish. It also won John an award for best Romance novel of the year, but that’s another story.
    As for SFWA, defending authors from predatory publishers is hard. You have to deal with icky things like contract law and deceptive accounting practices. It’s ever so much easier and vastly more personally rewarding to pass moral judgement on the sins of everyone even slightly within your sphere of influence. And should no real sins be readily available it’s always easy to cook up some tempest in a teapot.
    The entire SFWA crowd are so busy basking in their moral outrage that they have failed to notice they’ve slashed their own wrists and are slowly bleeding out. Or that they have alienated the very folks who once could have come to their aid and saved them.
    Change is always painful, but it also always presents opportunities. This would be a great time for someone to form an organization that actually did what SFWA was supposed to do, both with traditional publishers as they fade away and become increasingly irrelevant and provide some structure and assistance to authors and those who want to become as they navigate the reefs and shoals of indie. Sarah has done a fair bit of that already with her series of articles for PJM and here on that very subject.

    1. Have you ever had some task that was going to take a lot of hard work that you avoided by doing lots of other easier but irrelevant tasks? Your description of the SFWA avoiding the hard work with publishers to do the easy work of dealing with moral outrage reminds me of that. Granted, a lot of what people who indulge in moral outrage (on both the left and the right) remind me of that.

      1. Moral outrage and talking are easy compared to lots of things, they can make the outraged party feel good about themselves and yes, also work as the human equivalent of ‘hey, squirrel!’ to direct attention away from other things, whether that is the personal failures of the outrage squad or something else.

        And yes, both sides engage in the game. I do find it most excusable when the side which have been hammered more lately gets the chance to point out some big failure in the ranks of their accusers. At times it does seem rather necessary because moral outrage can work well enough as a tool, and if one side decides to be too pure to engage that can end badly for them since people do have the tendency to believe almost anything if it is repeated often enough (dangerous way to fight though since it also seems rather easy to lose the point, and facts, and end up where everybody is mostly just pointing fingers).

        One reason why this latest does make me feel somewhat gleeful, even when I am also disappointed because while, as I have said, I was not a big fan of MZB I might count as something of a fan anyway because I liked some of her books and edited anthologies well enough. And the personal rejection letter she send me that one time I submitted a story to Sword and Sorceress was kind, and encouraging. What came through in that letter seemed quite likable.

        So I’m of two minds here. Well, I’m not only a human, I’m a woman. I can manage that. 🙂

        1. TV and Film (and badly written books) have somewhat accustomed us to believe that “bad” people are discernible by appearance or behavioural cues. Recall the person who defended MZB on grounds a visit to her household failed to trip his predator radar (without his considering there may have been a calibration problem.)

          The fact is that most predators are charming and charismatic, a trait Alfred Hitchcock made a career on. As the saying goes, the jails are full of unsuccessful criminals.

          1. Yes. And then there is the problem that humans being humans, it’s always also quite possible that the same person does both good and bad, even very good and very bad things more or less at the same time.

            1. I’m reminded of an old, long-retired soldier I once helped bury, a man who was well-known for being an utterly contemptible bastard for most of his years after the war he served in. But, for one shining, sublime moment of heroic sacrifice in that war, he’d risked his life to save the lives of dozens of others, at the costs of wounds which destroyed his military career, and left him wracked with pain the rest of his life.

              The question you have to ask is “Does heroism in a five-hour firefight on a hillside in Korea, fifty years ago, make up for forty-odd years of being a complete and consummate bastard of a human being afterwards? Does all the pain and sorrow brought down upon those close to the bastard somehow become compensated for by the lives he saved, that day?”.

              You want the right thing, you have to tell the truth about people. All of it, no matter what. And, it goes in both directions–Knowing the bastard did some good, once? Knowing he did something truly heroic, and self-sacrificing? That might give his victims perspective on how he became the man he was, and it might make his admirers take pause, to understand that their hero on a pedestal treated family and acquaintances (for, he did not have friends…) like utter shit, the rest of his life.

              That was a strange funeral to take part in: One one side, there were the family members and the members of the community, who wholeheartedly hated the bastard in question. They knew nothing of his service in Korea, and were completely baffled by the many men who showed up to honor him, who were equally baffled at how the man they’d come to honor after all those years could have engendered such vitriol in his family and community.

              I’m also reminded of a guy I knew who steadfastly refused to join or take part in the Army’s Sergeant Audie Murphy program, which is a professional organization geared towards rewarding and honoring professionalism in the enlisted ranks. His position? Audie Murphy was a drunk and a wife-beater in later life, and thus, was not worthy of being honored with that sort of organization being named for him.

              I see his point, but I also see that the same man who became a drunk and a drug addict, who beat his wife, was also the young man who overcame fear to conduct himself selflessly and heroically in a series of very ugly wartime situations. Can we not honor the part of his life that was honorable, and condemn that which was contemptible, and retain the value of what good things he accomplished? Or, must we throw the whole thing into the trashheap, and wait for that sublime and perfect saint, the man or woman who can do no wrong?

              If we do, it’s going to be one hell of a long wait, I suspect.

              1. Especially since maybe in those cases it’s possible that the service they gave in wartime was the thing which broke their character. And sometimes perhaps the bad somebody has done is exactly the thing which will later spur them to try and make amends, whether it’s just one moment of heroics or somewhat longer service of their fellow men. How many lives would a murderer need to save before you could forgive the one he took? And when there is no turning point, but somebody falls and rises and then falls again, or maybe treats his own family badly while being the angel to strangers?

                People are difficult.

              2. Can we not honor the part of his life that was honorable, and condemn that which was contemptible, and retain the value of what good things he accomplished? Or, must we throw the whole thing into the trashheap, and wait for that sublime and perfect saint, the man or woman who can do no wrong?

                It would be nice if life were so simple, that good would be a full points shining paladin good and lovely, while evil full points rotten, evil and ugly. That is not and has never been the case. The human condition is one of contradictions.

                Anyway, this makes me think of two things. The first, is the tag line for Preston Sturges’ political satire, The Great McGinty:

                “This is the story of two men who met in a banana republic. One of them never did anything dishonest in his life except for one crazy minute. The other never did anything honest in his life except for one crazy minute. They both had to get out of the country.”

                The second, Judith Martin, otherwise known as Miss Manners, used to observe that polite consideration and manners were not just for the public, but that they were even more important shown towards those with whom we live.

    2. FWIW, my sense of BOTH Heinlein and Bradley that they, in their world-building, built in a strong taboo against crossing generational lines. Bradley, in her design of the Comyn made a very big deal of it. Heinlein, esp WRT Lazarus Long, was a bit less adamant.

      ISTR a story concerning a certain Dr. Johnson advising his daughter — whom he judged to be “man-tall” — to do as she listed, and damn the nosy parkers, but be careful not to get “caught”.

      The point I gathered from it being quite libertarian in spirit, inasmuch as the individual human sophont is judged capable of managing his (her) own affairs and f*ck you if you want to interfere. The individual decides when he/she is adult and society can go fly a kite. Just a couple points of data. No idea what to make of it in either case.


      1. As to Mr. Heinlein you mean as in Door Into Summer?

        I’d say a bit less adamant is something of an understatement – though Woody in his own old age had very few people of even close to his own generation to choose from. Given a chance Lazarus did socialize with people whose birthdays were within a century of his own but they died off or disappeared from the story or went native. Oscar may have been close as it gets (+/- 50 years) among immortals who all know each other and even he married a much older woman.

        Somebody please give me directions to Dr. Pournelle’s referenced comment – I find it neither at Chaos Manor nor at Jason Cordova’s website?

        Notice the thought experiment resembles some of the discussion in Miss Pym Disposes a writer that’s been talked about by Jo Walton among other SF fans.

        1. It is, in fact, here:

    3. In the fallout after Vietnam, the vision laid out by Heinlein in Harsh Mistress led to the founding of our intentional community and the line family that’s at its core. As a thirty-plus year member of that line, I’ll note that Sarah’s comment strikes me as right on. Other variants would be that the natural law penalty for having multiple wives is having multiple mother-in-laws, or the observation that the length of the “Honey Do” list grows very quickly when there are multiple wives adding to it : )

      As to Heinlein’s source, I’m satisfied that he was drawing on the experience of the Oneida Community. In Stranger, there’s a shout-out to Onedia, and many of the principles Heinlein references, such as the concept that if there was time enough, we could love an infinite number of just and worthy people, are almost direct quotes from OC publications. Those who find the memeology of poly to be of interest are welcome to converse with me at patrick(at)gorge(dot)net .

      1. I’m extremely conventional myself (and believe that it’s a human thing, generally, and argue that trying to make girls accept a “non-shaming” hook up culture is biologically insane) but I’ve met and talked to a number of poly people. Certainly when I *write* I consider what other ways humans might arrange themselves.

        It’s surprised me when same sex marriage advocates blithely reject poly arrangements as some bizarre thing that could never happen when polygamy is practically culturally pervasive and polyamory (sp?) is presented by polyamorists (IME) as an actual orientation… as in, some people naturally make multiple person bondings instead of single person bondings… and if that’s not *you* you probably can’t force it.

        It was weird to realize that as conventional as I am, I could more easily imagine alternatives than could those people demanding that marriage laws be changed. If I don’t care if two men set up housekeeping together, why the heck should I freak out if two men and a woman set up housekeeping?

        1. Two possibilities:

          They don’t want to live in a culture where anything goes, they want to be on the right side of the line dividing what goes and what doesn’t.

          It was a tactical objection.

          You really have to wonder when the same people shriek that people shouldn’t impose their narrow-minded disgust on them, and then express disgust with other actions and explicitly say this is why they don’t want those actions legal. I’ve seen it.

        2. I can think of a couple of possible reasons why the SSM people reject the possibility of plural marriages –

          1.) Some of them just flat out don’t believe in marriage, and see SSM as a way to wreck the institution. If you wreck marriage, then what do plural marriages matter?
          2.) For others, it’s all about getting acceptance by society. Push what you want, while simultaneously fervently denying that some other possible secondary effect might occur.

        1. I find the question of which of the forces at play led to the transformation of Oneida the community into Oneida the corporation to be a deep and fascinating one, especially for any community that wants to survive the rocky transition from the founders to the next generation. Oneida continued to grow for more than a century after the transformation, employing more than 2,500 people at its peak and dominating the US flat ware business, hardly a record that would suggest that it simply “fell apart.” In that Oneida’s senior vice president of design Paul E. Gebhardt is the great-great-grandson of said founder, I’d suggest that Oneida continues to be worthy of serious consideration.

          1. We weren’t discussing its silverware. We were discussing its marriage patterns. It fell apart.

            1. Marriage as a business, with contracts as a business, might actually be more stable than marriage-as-what-I-feel-for-you-today which seems to be the “modern” notion.

              But yes, I’d been under the impression that all of the various free-love communes had crashed and burned in sort order.

      2. Does it make me socially radioactive to say what consenting adults do to and with themselves is no concern of mine?

        1. I’m pretty much in the same boat. With the provision that if what some group of consenting adults wants to do, or feels they need to do, is something the majority of people find in some way disturbing, they should have the decency not to push their arrangements in the full view of that majority while still having the right to engage in it.

          How to achieve that in practice is of course a problem.

          Societal customs might work – have your polygamy or your line marriage, and have the same legal rights as conventionally married people do when it comes to things like inheriting or how to split the possessions if there is a divorce and so on but you don’t have the right to demand acceptance from those people who don’t accept. So in spite of being legal the unconventional would be kept at least somewhat hidden. The disapproving would pretend not to notice in public, somewhat easier because the unconventional would probably always remain a minority, and the unconventional would be willing to pretend some of the wives or husbands or that same sex spouse are just close friends when in public, or at least not demand to shout about their unconventional arrangements from the rooftops (and find the church and caterers who do accept when they marry or whatever, not demand service from those who don’t). Basically don’t ask, don’t tell, but only on the level of customs.

          Except you can’t force customs. They develop on their own.

          I don’t have any good answers here. But I don’t much like where we are now, when those who do disapprove are expected to pretend not to when something they don’t like gets repeatedly pushed into their faces.

        2. Does it make me socially radioactive to say what consenting adults do to and with themselves is no concern of mine?

          Admirable sentiments, and ones that I really want to echo.

          However, the fact remains that we are not autarchs, and must live in accordance with the community around us. If the neighbors are doing things that are destructive of the “social commons”, are we really able to look the other way, and say to ourselves “Not my business…”.

          No matter how much we may resent the idea, we live in a mental/cultural matrix/surrounding that is formed primarily from Judeo-Christian values and mores. Some of those mores and values may seem to us to be without value or utility, but do we really know which is which? You start screwing around with things in the social commons, and the ramifications and side effects become quite large, quite quickly. I don’t know what the implications of enabling something like same-sex marriage might be, but it’s such a fundamental change that I’m very leery of willy-nilly approving such a thing simply because it looks like a good idea, and seems as though it would be “fair” to me. Social issues are very strange, and entirely non-linear–You push here, and the results can often be seen waaaaaay over there, in what we might have thought were entirely unconnected matters. Pull over there, and the effects aren’t apparent for generations, because they’re so slow-acting, but our great-great-grandchildren will sit around in classrooms and discuss how that “minor” change can now be discerned to be a major turning point in our affairs.

          Which is why I’m a pragmatist, and extremely suspicious of change. Show me it works, somewhere, on a small scale, and I’ll buy into the idea that the implications may be manageable on a society-wide scale. Given the rate of human adaptation to change, I’m going to automatically be very conservative about enabling change just because “it looks good” from here.

          So, yeah… Maybe it would be ideal if we could simply go our own way, and ignore what others do. I’d like to, but having seen the demonstrated effects when everyone is following their own whims in things, I’m growing less and less enamored of the idea. There are a lot of people who simply are not suited for life in that sort of do-as-you-would-be-done-by environment, and who probably shouldn’t be allowed by the rest of us to “do their own thing”.

          The problem, no matter what you think, is where we draw the lines. Maybe things like single-sex marriage are truly “no big deal”, and we shouldn’t be manning the barricades against the idea. Thing is, we just don’t know, and I really don’t like making society-wide changes without having a pretty good idea for the full ramifications. Call me old-fashioned, but I like things that work. And, despite the many flaws, our society used to work a lot better in general, before we started making all these changes in the name of “social justice”.

          1. We know that contract law works. Would it be possible to allow people to make contracts regarding living arrangements, inheritance, etc., without calling it “marriage”? It seems to me that somehow we as a society have confused legal prerogatives of the marriage contract with some magical religious status of “marriage”.

            1. We tried that here in California. We called it Domestic Partnership. It was basically “marriage”, but without the word “marriage”, and provided all of the same legal protections and agreements that marriage did.

              And then the State Supreme Court issued a ruling that basically stated that because the State of California had authorized Domestic Partnerships, *not* allowing Same Sex Marriage was a violation of the State’s constitution.

              1. That decision and other actions of the California SSM activists convinced me that the SSM activists aren’t interested in the “legal benefits” of marriage but are mainly interested in forcing everybody in society to “approve” of gays. Oh yes, I don’t think those people will stop at the front door of America’s churches.

                1. I can’t confirm, but I’ve heard that the LDS Church has already started making plans and taking steps to circumvent the inevitable when some judge finally declares that religious organizations don’t have the right to forbid SSM marriages from happening on their property.

                  1. I looked up the ability of gay couples to adopt in Australia, and discovered it’s allowed in some states, with the interesting caveat of their not being allowed to adopt from religiously managed institutions, which is fair to me, and I can only hope that the adoptive parents are screened and paid attention to in the same way heterosexual parents are.

                    I found this out some months ago, when the story broke that some of the first gay couples who adopted children – boys – used the privilege to sexually abuse the children they adopted – especially this case in Britain – and that the people in charge of keeping an eye on the children’s safety found their ability to report severely compromised by the fact that any attempt to question or query was seen as ‘sexual discrimination’ thus ensuring that the child support services could not adequately do their jobs. I was curious if Australia allowed same sex couples to adopt.

                    I should note it took me a while to find the link – (freerepublic has the article with other links titled: “Gay Adoption Horror:Duke University Official Molested Adopted African American Son Pimped Son to Cop” )

                    1. Y’know… As I watch the current trend of norming what used to be considered strongly aberrant and deeply “wrong” sexual behavior, I have to wonder if there isn’t a functional reason that when you go looking for examples of human societies where homosexuality is integrated into family structures and/or considered as an issue of acceptable personal choice… You can’t find them.

                      I’ve done a hell of a lot of reading, over the years, of historical, ethnographic and sociological works, and I’ll be damned if I can think of a single example where there was such a thing as “same-sex marriage” being considered normal in any of the societies described therein. Homosexuals were always either set apart from society, or they were never considered as having formed “families” in any accepted sense. Why is that? Homosexuality was considered relatively normal in Rome, but I’ll be damned if I can think of a single case where there were two homosexuals that openly formed a family unit with something like a formal marriage contract. Why is that, I wonder?

                      One thing I’ve learned over the years: If they did things a certain way for generations, there’s usually a damn good reason for it, and that reason was arrived at through strict empirical observation of what worked, and what didn’t. If same-sex marriage worked, granting the same status to a pair of gay lovers that we do to a normal couple and family unit, why the hell don’t we see any examples of it enshrined in history? Maybe I’m ignorant, and the victim of biased historians that I’ve read, but can anyone please refute this for me? I’ve been unable to, on my own.

                      I’d really like to be the open-minded and progressive sort that everyone admires and looks up to, these days, but I have difficulty with that when that small voice in the back of my head keeps pointing out these minor little details, and asking “Why?”.

                    2. I’d really like to be the open-minded and progressive sort that everyone admires and looks up to, these days, but I have difficulty with that when that small voice in the back of my head keeps pointing out these minor little details, and asking “Why?”.

                      Phaugh, I say. As I said, for their visions of a nonexistant idealized Greek and Roman society to occur, with ‘gay love’ being the ideal, then women in that society become naught but brood mares, walking wombs for their offspring, not equals. What value motherhood, if the woman in such an arrangement does nothing but bear the child and has no say in how it is raised? I keep hearing ‘one day, there’ll be artificial wombs,’ but the push for the ‘future to be gay’ is not the future, but now, where no artificial wombs exist, women are encouraged to kill their own offspring in pursuit of an increasingly distorted ideal, despise the heterosexual, despise themselves for not being part of the ‘sanctified’ victim minorities…

                      I’d come to the question you had as well. ‘If gay love worked, why has it not been taught in history?’ I certainly did not encounter it in even college level history, and I’d read beyond that; yet even in the ‘enlightened’ times of the Greeks and Romans, one’s legitime was passed through blood offspring most of the time. So, to lie with a woman for duty, and a man for pleasure and love? Then what love remains for the mother and child?

                      Perhaps their adoration of those past cultures simply ignores a reality: those cultures have fallen, and we idealize their memory, long sanitized by the distance of time.

                      If I may be a bit cheeky for a moment: The Romans are long gone, as are the Greeks. The Jews and Christians remain, after more than how many hundred years of cultures trying to kill them?

                    3. There has never been safe (relatively) reliable contraception, either. We’re in totally unknown territory in the relationship between the sexes, Women’s studies and victimhood doesn’t help and gay marriage is the least of our concerns, because it brings the (small) gay minority to bourgeois values, rather than bringing the vast heterosexual majority to hedonist values, which is the direction we’ve been going for years.

                    4. And maybe there will be no harmful, unintended or unanticipated consequences. But…I can’t help but wonder what the *next* stricture to fall will be. Progressives never accept that they’ve progressed far enough.

                      I expect the next attack on traditional marriage will come in the form of eliminating the “only two people at a time” restriction. Then perhaps the “un-related to one another” restriction. And age of consent is so arbitrary and inconsistent anyway…

                    5. Minor nit, while Roman society was somewhat accepting of homosexual activity, it was a matter of accepting Roman men “f*cking” men/boys who were not Roman citizens (slaves or otherwise). It was illegal for a Roman man to be “f*cked” by a man who was a not Roman citizens.

                    6. The Romans are long gone, as are the Greeks. The Jews and Christians remain, after more than how many hundred years of cultures trying to kill them?

                      Don’t underrate the Romans and Greeks. Their polities are long gone, but the peoples survived. They converted and became the very Christians that you speak of.

                    7. Apologies; I was trying for a bit of humor and it failed. Not my day for comments, I’m afraid.

                      I do beg pardon; not my day either, it seems.

                      Still (and more nearly, I hope, in the spirit of the jest): If the Greeks and Romans found that the best way to survive was by turning into Christians, might it not possibly be that they were onto something?

                    8. and I’ll be damned if I can think of a single example where there was such a thing as “same-sex marriage” being considered normal in any of the societies described therein.

                      Until recently, marriage was primarily viewed as a way to ensure the survival of the species. You slept with your wife to ensure that you’d have someone to carry your name when you died. You acquired a lover if you were interested in love. That’s not to say that there weren’t plenty of marriages in which the husband and wife loved each other. But it was a bonus, not a requirement. The primary purpose was to get yourself an heir. And someone to take care of you on the off-chance that you reached old age.

                      Given that, it’s not really a surprise that we haven’t seen SSM until now. It’s impossible for same sex partners to have kids that are genetically related to both partners. And thus, SSM would completely defeat the old purpose of marriage.

                      This was one of the things brought up during the Prop 8 trial, and of course was denigrated and dismissed by the judge.

                    9. Exactly. But many if not most marriages now are also NOT — emphatically not — for procreation. So, it’s not the sex of the partners but the purpose of the marriage that should count and if sterile — voluntarily, most of them — hetero marriage is allowed, why not gay marriage.
                      Bio-technology makes this a whole different game.

                    10. That’s a good argument for repealing all laws privileging marriage over non-marital relationships. People will live together regardless, and that carries its own practical benefits. Why spend taxpayer money on something that will happen anyway, and which often doesn’t provide any tangible benefits to the taxpayer?

                    11. Survival of the species did not just require reproduction, it requires day to day survival. Until rather recently it really did take more than one person to keep a household running. Most of us have no idea what amount of time and effort it took to simply keep warm and fed.

                      Hedonism as a functioning philosophy that can only exist where there is extreme wealth to support it. I suspect that this is the first time where any society could really begin to consider trying something like it on a wide spread scale. even then, what we have is a moderated form. Most of those who attempt it are still required to take time in at a workplace to finance their pursuit of pleasures, and are limited by their paychecks. Those who are financed by the government have even more limited funds. So, whatever, there is still have rather limited opportunity to actually pursue a range of pleasures. And there still are consequences to be faced.

                      BUT — and here the trouble lies — we are being to see a large number of people who believe that the ability to pursue whatever pleasure strikes you in the moment is what ought to be, that it soul come without penalty of negative consequences and someone else is responsible to make it possible for them to do so. This does not jibe with reality.

                    12. “Homosexuals were always either set apart from society, or they were never considered as having formed “families” in any accepted sense. ”

                      Actually, most of them were married in the classic meaning. The Symposium lightly mentions that homosexual men must be forced by law to marry and beget children. The idea of men whose orientation precludes that doesn’t even register — of course they can do their duty.

                    13. Exactly. But many if not most marriages now are also NOT — emphatically not — for procreation. So, it’s not the sex of the partners but the purpose of the marriage that should count and if sterile — voluntarily, most of them — hetero marriage is allowed, why not gay marriage.
                      Bio-technology makes this a whole different game.

                      There are a few arguments, and precious few good unpoliticized studies (I’ve read about two, with opposing results, and both studies had small flaws in other areas) on the long-term effects of same sex partnerships on kids raised in those family arrangements. Given that the state still has an interest in encouraging the birth of kids (keep the population base up, make sure that Social Security income stays larger than the payouts to retirees, etc…), and the raising of those kids in the best possible environment, there’s an argument to be made for the state to be encouraging hetero marriage – even sterile marriages that adopt kids – over same sex marriages – even ones that adopt. Unfortunately, we don’t know the full effects on the kids at this point, and there haven’t been enough unpoliticized studies to properly evaluate things. So it’s possible that the point is moot. But we don’t know for certain.

                    14. I grew up around a number of homosexual couples who had children– generally one had divorced her husband for a girlfriend or series of girlfriends.

                      It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to guess what that did to the boys. (only knew two girls, both too much older than me to talk to me; dad’s a cowboy, and is good with kids, so I got to see how starved some were for a male figure)

                      Yeah, any study with less than a “they’re great!” result will end the careers of everyone involved.

                    15. “But many if not most marriages now are also NOT — emphatically not — for procreation. ”

                      The thing is that even if both spouses are certified sterile, and both spouses sincerely profess to not want children — there still may be children. Channeling people who might get little surprises into marriage before their little surprise arrives means it’s ready to catch the kid.

                    16. I vaguely remember that the conversation went something like “can still happen unless there’s a full hysterectomy” and it was responded to by someone pointing out that you’d have to remove the ovaries, too.

                      I believe in theory that you could just remove the ovaries, but seem to remember there’s a history of that working in theory but not practice, so the only way to know you fully did it is to get them both….

                  2. I hope they have, and wish they would make their plans public. I’m not a member of the LDS (can’t recall even meeting one in person), but that’s a horn call I’ll respond to.

                    Twenty years ago I argued FOR SSM, so long as it was a legislative or initiative decision — the people had a say, and had been convinced, rather than forced by judges. As the years have gone by the advocates have gotten rather rabid, though, and lost me completely when they started suing using government force against people who didn’t want to take part.

                    1. Keep in mind the heat brought down on the LDS community over California’s Proposition 8 referendum, even though the real voter turn-out against that was Hispanic and African-American.

                    2. It always seemed to me that the reason that the LDS is so unmoved and adamant about gay marriage is probably more about a lack of sympathy to the supposed “constitutional right” part, since not even the first amendment was enough to guarantee LDS religious freedom where “marraige” is concerned.

                      We Lutherans never had that experience.

                    3. Well, being driven from a state where the Governor has signed an order making it legal to kill you does tend to color one’s perceptions, going on for several generations.

                      But the staunch opposition to same-sex marriage comes largely from theological beliefs. Like most Christian churches (at least I think most Christian churches), the LDS church regards homosexual practice a sin.

                      We take it a step further than most, I think, because of specific LDS beliefs regarding marriage, which we believe is a commandment of God (going all the way back to the Garden of Eden, and a requirement for certain blessings after this life is over. Given that and other beliefs regarding gender as being an essential part of who you are, one that was a part of you before you were born, even (The curious might do a search for “Proclamation on the Family” for a more authoritative statement of the relevant doctrines), it’s not too much of a stretch to see why we’re maybe a bit more adamant on this than other churches.

                      Well, that and given our experience before the pioneers moved to Utah, we might be excused a slight distrust of any government promise not to try to “force” a church to do something against its doctrine.

                      > >

            2. Up here the homosexual couples I know who were married (at their church) and had a power of attorney on all the aspects of their shared life they wanted it actually had an arrangement that was legally superior to why my husband and I have. There’s a lot of things we’d have to get a power of attorney for.

            3. The problem is that there come along these people, who are small and incompetent, who aren’t party to these contracts and who will be harmed if their interests are protected. What’s more, the whole system can collapse if their interests are not protected, because their upbringing will determine whether they can support the system.

              Furthermore they come along unpredictably. People who didn’t want ’em and thought they couldn’t have ’em nevertheless have had them.

          2. I’m neither Jew nor christian, so the argument of judeo-christian norms has little traction with me. As for pragmatism, the established order has obviously ceased working, and thus must be adjusted. I cannot believe that according your neighbors the respect not to involve yourself in their bedrooms without invitation is an inevitable descent into chaos.
            My sexual proclivities are no concern of yours or anyone else not directly involved so far as all are consenting adults. Nor is how my family is arranged. Nor my religion or diet or any other damn thing so long as it does not Directly impact you personally. I gleefully accord you the same respect.

            1. I’m neither Jew nor christian, so the argument of judeo-christian norms has little traction with me.

              It has nothing to do with what you are, it has to do with what the society is built on; leaving is the traditional option if a society’s demands are unbearable.

              Most people prefer to try to get whatever benefit is offered by the society without having to do stuff they don’t want, or not do the things they do want. Kept low level enough, this is even a workable solution, or at least was in our culture up to now.

            2. Doesn’t matter. You may not be Christian, or Jewish, but you’re still living in the common spaces hollowed out by those faiths, and their ideology still permeates the public spaces we all share. Or, do you imagine that you could dwell safely in a world run on the ideals and conceptions of Islam, were you not Islamic?

              Whether we like it or not, the vast majority of our “mindspace” in the west is occupied and influenced by the Judean-Christian ethos and belief system–Elsewise, we’d probably still be attending gladiatorial combats where the audience masturbated itself to climax observing the killings.

              It may not be something you particularly like, but the fact is that we’re all living in a cultural matrix here in the West that is the inarguable creation of the Christians and Jews, with some input from the less sophisticated and far bloodier cultures they supplanted and co-opted. For good, or ill, that’s a fact.

              1. And thus any cultural contributions I and mine might make are automatically discounted because I don’t worship the zombie Jewish carpenter. How nice.
                No, our system was to be designed without religion. If you want religion to rule, read up on the Catholic empires of the dark ages. Very almost eerily similar to the Islamic countries today.
                All I want is to be left alone. If I want to sleep in a pile of voluptuaries that is my right. Provided they are all consenting adults.
                Therefore in the vein of Heinlein, I bid you, Mrs. Grundy, to go fly a kite

                1. … our system was to be designed without religion.

                  That would likely surprise the Framers, given that many states had an official Church — which is part of why the First Amendment barred a Federal establishment of a Church. That was to protect the rights of the States, not the people.

                2. You’re being intentionally obtuse.

                  The point that I’m making isn’t one where I’m trying to render a value judgement on your choices in life. That’s something you are creating out of whole cloth, and it’s rather interesting that you chose to interpret what I’m saying that way. Project, much?

                  The point that I’m making is that the culture we live in is profoundly informed by the whole Judeo-Christian mindframe. You can deny it, but that’s like saying “Wow, I really don’t like the color blue, so I’m gonna stamp my little feet and say that the sky is green, instead….”.

                  Everything that enables you to live in an atmosphere of tolerance inevitably springs from that same matrix, whether or not you want to agree. And, that matrix is something we ought to be careful to conserve, because along with the intolerance comes the set of values that prevent the same narrow-minded sorts who used to burn Jews at the stake for having the temerity to lend them money from doing the same to you and yours. It ain’t perfect, but it’s how we got where we are today, and if you think there’s a better option out there, I invite you to try out another social construct. Sub-Saharan Africa seems interesting, so long as the neighbors don’t decide you’re a witch, or you have albinism in your genes.

                  It’s all to easy to mock and criticize, but your ilk is often blind to the benefits you’ve accrued simply by being a part of this whole thing. Rule of law? Property rights? Prosperity? That’s all stuff that came along as baggage with the whole Judeo-Christian package, and you’d do well to remember that. Life under the pagan Romans wasn’t so great, for those who weren’t the Boni, and there’s examples abundant surrounding us in daily life around the world. Care to try your alternative choices out in, oh, say… Kuwait? I don’t know what particular faith you’ve adopted as an alternative, but you’d find it a hard row to hoe, were you to try doing it in almost any of the Gulf Arab states. Stoning might be something you longed for, given the the things I’ve had to research about what goes on with those folks who the Arabs don’t consider “of the Book”.

                  All I’m saying is that we’re in a cultural lifeboat, that up until recently, has done a pretty good job of doing well for the vast majority of us. I’m not too pleased that a lot of people seem to think that it’s a trivial thing to start drilling holes in the structure, and breaking other things we all require, like the rule of law. Carrying out the metaphor, even if you don’t believe in boats, it’d be a good idea to keep bailing the damn thing out, unless you want to start swimming all by your lonesome.

                  1. Thank you for this comment. I’ve had a few arguments with atheists who rant at me that religion has done nothing positive in the world. My succinct reply is ‘Modern Western Civilization.’

                    The usual retort I get is that Western Civilization is based off of Greek and Roman. Do they really, really believe that the Greeks and Romans weren’t religious in the least? Or perhaps, they’d like to return to those times, slavery being the norm, or say the Greeks, which they constantly uphold as an ideal for their ‘tolerance’ of gay sex but I’ve seen repeatedly quoted as having seen women as nothing more than brood mares. The religions of the Greco-Roman period were quite brutal, but that doesn’t fit the narrative, so it must be ignored. As much as they don’t want to recognize it because of bitter spite, the Judeo-Christian values have changed the course of history, making it markedly different from the other religions of the world. These sneering, ungrateful brats who look down on these values have no concept of what they benefit from. Despite my having become apostate of the Catholic faith, I know well that it is a much kinder faith to leave than say, Islam, and it is only through the culture brought about by the Judeo-Christian faith that I am able to do that. I appreciate that ability and the blessing of being born in the century I’m in.

                    Frankly, I’m tired of the folks who constantly decry what we have because it isn’t perfect, therefore it must be destroyed. There’s a saying here in Australia: Love it or leave. The multiculturalists decry it as being intolerant, but these tourists of multiculturalism haven’t experienced real intolerance. They should visit Africa and see if their whimpering ‘bring us back our girls’ will work, hie off to the Middle East and on leaving, throw away their American, Canadian, British or whatever passport they have, and declare themselves citizens of a different nation of their preference! Or perhaps, of the ‘world’, and see how well that works out for them.

                3. And thus any cultural contributions I and mine might make are automatically discounted because I don’t worship the zombie Jewish carpenter. How nice.

                  Incorrect. Nobody’s “discounting” them, they’re saying they haven’t had much effect on the broader culture. And the reason that the cultural contributions of you and “yours” (which would be which culture, by the way? You haven’t said) haven’t having much effect is because of numbers. Cultures are very large things; the push a single individual will give towards a culture is tiny on the scale of a country, especially one with over 300 million people. Plus, there’s the momentum of history: almost everyone who came to this country came from a background of Judeo-Christian moral values, even if they were not themselves Jewish or Christian. (In part because of the broad influence of Catholicism in Europe during medieval times, which you mention.) So there’s a vast amount of momentum behind that set of moral values, which is why they are taking so long to crumble even with all the effort that Hollywood and the political left are putting into tearing them down.

                  Oh, and by the way:

                  … the zombie Jewish carpenter…

                  Whether you’re going by the voodoo definition of “zombie” (a corpse raised by magic with no will of its own and responding to the will of its animator) or by the pop culture version (a corpse raised by science gone wrong (usually) which hungers to feed on brains but has no intelligence or ability to think), either way the term is completely inaccurate. In no version of the story of Jesus’ resurrection (including the versions that claim “He never actually rose, and it was all faked”) is there any suggestion that he was in a state of zombified reanimation. If you’re going to disparage the dearly-held beliefs of billions of people, you could at least have the intellectual integrity to get your facts right! At least if you want anyone to take you seriously, which I’m much less inclined to do now than I was before you posted that uniquely fact-free little insult.

                  1. While setting the kettle to the fire for tea it struck me that if one is to reject the Judeo-Christian basis of our culture one must also reject Science.

                    The great philosophers who developed Modern Science did so under the premise that G-D created our universe / G-D is not irrational // ergo the Universe He created is not irrational /// ergo His universe behaves in rational ways which we can understand and predict //// ergo to better understand Him we must study His Universe.

                    Of course, like many academics, the more we study our subject the more we tend to forget why we are studying the topic in the first place.

                    1. Presuming a rational god does lead one to reasonably conclude a rational universe. However, given a rational, or internally consistent, universe (as ours appears to be) does not, AFAIK, require a god at all.

                      So while the belief in a rational god certainly helped the development of science, I don’t know that one can conclude that it was the only way science could’ve developed. Growing populations mean more brains thinking about various issues, and given enough brains, and enough connections between them, the scientific method would likely have developed regardless of the religious beliefs, unless those beliefs were actively (as in “burn the heretic/infidel/apostate”) opposed to such inquiry.

                      A moot point at this juncture of course:-).

                    2. Well “reason” always depends on what are the axioms that your logical chain starts from.

                      The “axioms” of a society believing in multiple *competing* gods would strongly differ from the “axioms” of a society believing in one god controlling everything.

                      Now the “axioms” of a society believing in multiple gods with one supreme law-making god may be similar to the “axioms” of a society believing in only one god.

                      IIRC Greek philosophers were coming to view Zeus as the supreme law-making god thus their theories didn’t have to account for “what if one god disagrees with another god”. IE Zeus set the rules and the other gods followed suit.

                      Science depends on the idea that the world follows rules. If your beliefs include the idea that anyone of the gods can change the rules at a whim, then science is unlikely IMO to develop.

                      Mind you, science would depend on the belief that the “rule-maker” doesn’t change the rules at a whim. IIRC Islam has a strong strain of belief that Allah can’t be restricted and won’t restrict Himself. Christianity and Judaism do believe that God will restrict Himself. Miracles are the exception but are only done for special purposes.

                      [Got to go, my dog wants attention. [Smile]]

                    3. Not just gods, but even just spirits.

                      Imagine if we all not just absolutely believe in gremlins, but had rituals with formal offerings to calm them down and/or rituals to bribe stronger spirits to do it for us.

                      It’s not enough that there be one guy, he has to set basic rules that don’t change and enforce them.

                    4. Agreed, belief in a rational Creator is not a prerequisite for belief in a rational universe, but it certainly seems to have been a catalytic factor in the much more rapid development of Science in the Occident as contrasted with the relative retardation in the far more populous Orient. Nor ought we conclude that Faith in a Creator was a primary factor in that differential development; certainly development of both the printing press and a reasonably congenial alphabet were factors. OTOH, it was largely for Faith that literacy was preserved and primarily for Faith that printing prospered.

                      Post hoc ergo propter hoc has its problems but is yet a valuable component of the Scientific Method.

                      As you said, moot at this point.

                4. And thus any cultural contributions I and mine might make are automatically discounted because I don’t worship the zombie Jewish carpenter. How nice.

                  As an Agnostic, I still think this is an unreasonably over-the-top interpretation of what Kirk wrote.

                  He’s saying that, barring leaving behind any Western country, you can’t escape the massive legal and cultural influences of the Judeo-Christian juggernaut which shaped Western culture. The BASE of that culture, it’s rules and taboos, are going to apply to you, just as would the base of Hindu culture if you were to move to India.

                  And your Heinlein reference is off the mark. Heinlein’s characters didn’t flaunt their non-standard relationships, they were discreet about them, because THEY understood this concept. Any in-your-face confrontation of Mrs. Grundy was made as a confusionary (totally a word) tactic, so they could get her off guard when they got caught.

                  There’s an old saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” When you’re living in a country where you don’t share the cultural norm, you pretend that you do, to keep from getting in conflict with your neighbors. This is simple politeness. Culture changes slowly, if it is going to maintain cohesiveness, and this is something that various types of activists haven’t been able to wrap their heads around.

                5. Actually, js, any contributions you and yours might make are automatically discounted because you present as an obnoxious spiteful ass* who clearly doesn’t have his facts straight. That would be true even if you were High Church.

                  *One cheap gratuitous insult earns one cheap gratuitous insult in response, except I repay in retail what you offered wholesale.

                6. “If I want to sleep in a pile of voluptuaries that is my right. Provided they are all consenting adults.”

                  And when your children turn feral? Is that still your right?

                  1. If he wants to put a .38 caliber headache remedy through his brain pan that is his right, so long as he cleans up the mess.

              2. I think the analogy being sought is that of Chesterson’s Fence:

                In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.

                source <a href="'s_fence"here.

                1. I think the next paragraph really helps flesh it out:

                  “This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable. It is extremely probable that we have overlooked some whole aspect of the question, if something set up by human beings like ourselves seems to be entirely meaningless and mysterious. There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease. But the truth is that nobody has any business to destroy a social institution until he has really seen it as an historical institution. If he knows how it arose, and what purposes it was supposed to serve, he may really be able to say that they were bad purposes, that they have since become bad purposes, or that they are purposes which are no longer served. But if he simply stares at the thing as a senseless monstrosity that has somehow sprung up in his path, it is he and not the traditionalist who is suffering from an illusion”

              3. Nod. It’s interesting that most of the people who strongly hate religion and religious people still follow the basic morals that our society has gained from Christian and Jewish teaching. They may “claim” that their morals are “better” because their morals are “rationally based” instead of “religiously based” but in general their morals are still the same morals of the religious people they hate.

                    1. Recent story related to me by housemate, who sat through an online hunting party that included a feminist (No, don’t ask me why a feminist is playing a video game with idealized female characters, I don’t know how to parse that crazy.) She ranted through a chunk of that about her 11 worthless husbands, bitched about there being no good men any more, and finally was brought up short by housemate saying, “I know what the problem is.”

                      Her: “Really? What?”

                      Him: “Well, see, there’s a really common and obvious factor that exists in all those marriages you had.

                      Her: “Well, tell me!”

                      Him: “You.”

                      *Seda has been banned from the Ventrilo channel*

                      (other partymates PM him with how awesome he was.)

                    2. Him: “Well, see, there’s a really common and obvious factor that exists in all those marriages you had.” … “You.”

                      YES! I love it. Kudos to your housemate.

                1. Now, my personal belief is that, barring the religion-specific rules (just as an easy-to-think-of example, the Commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” [or however exactly it is worded)] ), a “rational” examination of the basic principles of life and survival, for social animals such as humans, will result in pretty much the same set of basic rules as the Judeo-Christian ones, especially when adjusted for the technology of the time when most of them were written (A lot of the so-called “rational” rules can be adjusted with higher technology increasing lifespans and child survival rates).

                  That said, I can’t, myself, see why coming to those same conclusions via reason rather than religion would make them superior. To me, it says either of two things: 1) If the religion is correct about G-d, then He obviously designed life to follow His rules, or 2) If the religion is WRONG, then someone else already figured out the same things, and taught them via religion, so they would not have to deal with trying to explain their reasoning to the congenitally thick-headed.

                  1. As C. S. Lewis observed, Jesus could hardly have offered a radically new morality. He came to free us from our sins, which would have been nonsense had they been sins against a new code we had not known of.

            3. Wow. You’re really going to win some hearts and change some minds by calling the founder of the world’s largest religous system a “zombie.”

              We’re all just so awestruck by your wit and compassion that we’re all rushing to abandon our religious beliefs and cultural traditions because of your petty, mean-spirited little dig.

              In particular, I’m going to abandon the crazy Christian idea of forgiving those who insult or harm you and go back to the sensible pagan idea of blood feud. Which means I guess you won’t complain if I hunt you down and cut off your stupid, empty head, eh, jselvy? After all, I’m not being a dumb Christian, right?

            4. Outside of religious traditions, there is ample evidence to argue that there needs to be stability in households where children are present. This is a rational concern for a society.

              1. It’s only rational in the context of a society that values its own existence and survival. A society that’s embraced libertinism and nihilism, one that considers itself irredeemably evil and deserving of destruction, is unlikely to care about the stability of its inheritors. If it bothers to even produce any.

                  1. (Alas and pooh. Every time someone posts a link to the old URL of one of my essays, I have to code a 301 redirect to the new one. I don’t mind doing it, but still, I ask you of your kindness to avoid using the old links when possible. The new ones can be identified because they contain the date of posting, like this:


                    Thank you all the same for linking to my humble screeds.)

          1. Without limitation? or up a point, even an extreme point but drawing a line at consensus insane or extremely personally damaging behavior? At some point is an involuntary rubber room appropriate?

            I like to think I’m as libertarian and opposed to the initiation of force as anybody. I did once tell a nominal but young for his age adult – who’d decided he wasn’t really an insulin dependent diabetic and ditched his works after razzing – that he could visit his mother where he had kept a spare insulin kit voluntarily or I’d break his arm to facilitate dragging him there. I’d be less quick to do it that way now and I’d have to look harder for another alternative since at my age it wouldn’t be a credible threat. Just the same I meant it at the time and it worked out OK.

        3. I have my own preferences on the matter, but when it comes to competent adults as long as you add that no one gets seriously harmed and they generally keep their business to themselves it is their business. I am not a voyeur, and would like that respected.

    4. As someone whose own knowledge of the Heinlein corpus starts with STARSHIP TROOPERS (which I loved) and ends with STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND (which I hated, and that tells you all you need to know about my inner teenager right there), I have to ask: What is a “line marriage”, and how does it differ from a “group marriage”?

      1. The line marriage, as described in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, is a special form of group marriage, which is generational, and “brings in new blood” every so often. The notion being that it provided higher stability for children, as there would be more people to help raise them, as well as distributing the load if someone became ill or lost his/her job.

        1. One also notes that too many responsible people can be as bad as too few. You are more likely to die of heart attack if six people see you collapse than if one does, because the one knows if he doesn’t act, you will die. In a family with a dozen parents, any one kid’s problems can be handed around like a hot potato.

          The only book with line marriage I’ve read is Mother Grimm, where an endemic disease ensures that everyone dies by their mid-thirties. The rule is there is that say, a woman in her late teens marries a man in his mid-twenties who is already married to a woman in her early thirties who is already bed-ridden. They look after her until she dies, they look after the kids, she hits her mid-twenties and the husband is bed-ridden and so she takes a second husband in his late teens, and the process goes on, flipping the sex of the next spouse. One notes, under this scenario, that as a stepmother, she is looking after her first husband’s children by his first wife, his first wife’s children by her first husband, and even her first husband’s children by his first wife, though those are rapidly approaching marriageable age.

          It was also a small society and there was little outside it to flee to, so pressure to hold up your half of the bargain had to be fierce.

        2. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress examined a society that had grown up under unusual circumstances. It is a work of fiction where the world and characters were set up and manipulated by the author — for the author’s purpose. With Heinlein this is not necessarily a recommendation for a particular life style, as in other novels he considered other arrangements.

    5. “I would observe that Heinlein made a very persuasive case for polygamy and line marriage in Mistress. ”

      You must remember that it was persuasive in the context of being conducted by characters whom he utterly controlled. One can see that all over the place. In The Dispossessed, for instance, there are “shirkers” who are shunned. Why do these shirkers not band together and swear to never work like the criminal gangs that formed in the gulags?

      1. There are some historical precedences. At least the wealthier men having mistresses among the servant women seems to have been a fairly common and unofficially at least somewhat approved practice for centuries, partly maybe because it meant easier demands on the more important wife at a time when there was no reliable contraception and pregnancy and childbirth could kill, especially once the woman got older. With a mistress or two she didn’t have to be pregnant the whole time, and he could still get sex. And large households were between quite useful and necessary once upon a time, looking after the children and the elderly was easier when there were more able bodied adults around to do it, and presumably those households where more people than not were related might have been a bit more stable than ones where the relationship depended mostly on getting paid. The bastards of the master might make more loyal servants, at least if their blood relationship resulted in a some way more privileged or secure position. I guess I have mostly assumed Heinlein was thinking about something like that when he wrote those novels.

        1. Sally Hemmings for an example – some major cultural differences here and there just the same.

          I notice that on the one hand Manny felt unencumbered and so free to light out and on the other hand unentangled and so willing to light out.

          Perhaps it was taking a long view that gave Gwen/Hazel license to be all things from child to grandmother to group wife.

          1. I’d assume line or group marriages would work best if the reasons to enter one, or to bring in a new member, are more rational rather than emotional. No matter how much he loves her doesn’t guarantee that the previous members in the group will even tolerate her, much less like or love her, and if he brings her in anyway it might dissolve the whole thing. But if members choose each other more for practical reasons – they get along well enough, with similar enough outlooks and similar enough interests, their job skills form a nice continuum and result in jobs which allow them being able to keep schedules which fit and so on – than romantic ones I guess it might work pretty well. As long as nobody meets their soulmate who doesn’t fit. Or, maybe, unsuitably strong emotions rise between members who are already in. Like two husbands both deciding that one of the wives is _his_ true soulmate. 🙂

            Rational marriages seem to work well enough, it doesn’t have to be True Love from the beginning. At least my parents had one, they had gotten married because both figured it was high time, and found the other good enough. Mother said that they had then grown quite attached to each other within a few years.

            1. My recollection is that the family that Lazarus Long was born into (not under that name) ended up becoming an incestuous, dysfunctional mess.

              His mother seduces him when he travels back in time (not realizing it’s him). Later on, his father splits from his mother in favor of one of his sisters. Later on, two of his siblings start having sex with each other before they’re forced apart. And he ends up bringing his mother into his big group marriage.

              Make of all of that what you will.

              1. Yep. Might work pretty well as long as everybody acts mostly on a strictly rational basis.

                But we are humans, not Vulcans. Emotions have a tendency to get in the way. 🙂

                1. I was always rather enchanted by how the Vulcans were…well, the Vulcans… not because they didn’t have emotions, but because they recognized they couldn’t function if they didn’t keep that much of a lid on it.

                  I swear, it made growing up so much easier. 😀

              2. Let us also remember that the weirder Heinlein works were created during a period when he was experiencing significant health issues, not the least of which was the carotid artery blockage he had to have surgically corrected. I’m not sure that we should consider what he produced to keep the money coming in to be truly representative of what he really thought, believed, or acted on in his life. I try not to read too much into his later works, to tell you the truth.

                1. I am willing to stipulate that much of Heinlein’s writing throughout his career (or at least once he achieved commercial success) contained efforts to challenge conventional thought,. Whether that was to undermine it or to reinforce it by causing us to think through our imbibed at the nipple conventions is a question I feel no need to address.

                1. And what’s more, she instantly turns into a cold, calculating machine to protect her own interests in the divorce. She does not show signs of distress.

                  1. Well, no outward signs, but he showed that inside, she’s in great turmoil, but she knows she has to look after herself, since her husband has given up that job.

  5. There was a time when I thought it would be cool to have done enough work to be a member of SFWA, but no longer. I have more than enough PC thought control in my life, and don’t react well to having it thrust on me.

    1. These days, I think the only benefit of having qualified and joined the SFWA would be the ability to send in my resignation accompanied with a scathing letter explaining why it was tendered.

      Not that I was ever close to qualifying – other than a few rejected stories decades back, I never attempted to write professionally. But it kinda-sorta makes me wish I’d persevered so I could resign now.

  6. I’ve always had the opinion that whatever two (or more) consenting (very important that they are consenting and can consent) people do in privacy is none of my business.

    By the same token, I also don’t want to know about it. It isn’t that I’m a prude. Having gone to an engineering college then having worked in IT for all of my adult life and having co workers who are (by and large) not all that attractive (it isn’t something we tend to care about) I don’t like to think about them that way. As far as I know, none of them have sex. (Yes, it is hard maintaining this level of denial but I was taught by a professional.) Really, I just don’t want to know.

    1. I’ll go farther. I don’t want to think of people that way because I think it’s disrespectful to my wife and will damage my relationship with her, and it’s disrespectful to my friends and I don’t want to damage my relationships with them. Having healthy relationships is what makes life fulfilling; feeling like I’m a creep isn’t very satisfying.

  7. I’ve been observing that the emotion of moral outrage is quite addictive, and is very easily fed by browsing one’s favored blogs and news sites. And it drives wedges between people on different sides of the arguments, because it’s hard to look at the group of those you disagree with in a charitable way after reading the vicious nasty things that people feel free to say online that they would never say to someone’s face.

    We don’t seem to have good ways of dealing with these kinds of pressures yet. I only hope we learn how to handle it before people become entirely splintered into groups that never even talk to or deal with each other because outrage.

    1. We have perfectly good ways of dealing with such things: racism is racism, sexism is sexism. End of story.

  8. I lied about my age when I was 17 and there was more than one boyfriend who could have gotten in trouble for it so I understand the arbitrary nature of the line.

    There’s more than one author I’ve stopped reading because their politics had seeped into their books enough to make them tedious and then they said something monumentally stupid and I lost all respect and interest in their books. I didn’t have the urge to purge but I understand the people who did. There have also been author’s who I have been so unsettled by some things they wrote that I couldn’t read anything else. They felt slimy and I am seriously surprised I haven’t seen these kinds of accusations about them.

  9. Yes the legal age is a compromise. Often a poor one. That’s why in one of my book series I have a small community – about 2000 people – confer majority by public vote. You have to be nominated and get supporting votes. In one scene a family decides to leave because the community won’t vote their son his majority and their threat to leave is met with silence. After they walk out on man notes that the whole family did not have a functioning adult in it.
    In another series I wrote an alien culture eases their children into adulthood by letting them exercise rights in stages. They can form contracts and say how their property will be used while still not able to do certain things such as command a ship.
    Both these lines of thought highlight a failing of our society. We have to deal with people for important things while not really knowing the person. My wife just told me this morning that a fellow we know is running for Congress. I happen to know him because he treated me. He’s a doctor. Also in my opinion he is an arrogant son of a bitch and I’d hate to see him in Congress. He’ll fit in perfectly.
    I also have no solution to this problem. But being aware of why it is a problem at least lets you look for solutions.

    1. Well, let’s see.
      Age to drive, 16 (or to take the driving test, you still have to pass)
      Age to vote or serve in the military, 18
      Age to drink, 21
      Age to serve as POTUS, 35
      Age to engage in sexual intercourse, anywhere from 14 to 18 depending on the jurisdiction
      All the above specific to the US, elsewhere who knows.

      1. We allow children to form various sorts of “contracts” at various ages. They are allowed to purchase trivial things by themselves, they can start working outside the home generally at 12 or 14 (during non-school periods or for certain limited hours after school depending on jurisdiction etc.).

        We ultimately hold their parents responsible for many of these contracts because *someone* has to be, and their parents are generally in the best position to enforce them.

    2. Yes the legal age is a compromise. Often a poor one. That’s why in one of my book series I have a small community – about 2000 people – confer majority by public vote. You have to be nominated and get supporting votes.

      During Season One of the TV series Young Justice, the Justice League is discussing qualifications for heroes to join the Justice League. One of the things that’s initially settled on is that human heroes should be 18 years old before they can join the League. But then a problem emerges. It’s recently been learned that the secret identity of Captain Marvel, who’s a long-time member of the League, is a ten year old boy named Billy Batsen…

  10. Guys, it’s no use whatsoever pretending our people aren’t weird, and sexually weird, as well as in other ways, and that part of our weirdness is driven by “thinking too much.”

    I will affirm this. This year I ran a (non-SFF) event that attracted weird people. I have attended it in the past. Multiple times I have caught myself thinking “wow, we are weird with some of the stuff we consider normal” and at the same time look forward to it as going home.

    On the broader subject of judging and acting on the judgment I’m of two minds. How individuals react to revelations is quite different from how institutions react. I given individuals a lot more leeway.

    I would consider an attempt to posthumously strip MZB of awards and honors not the SFWA upholding some moral standard but trying to continue to cover for individual members who knew and excused. As I said in the last thread I consider the NCAA’s retroactive “punishment” of Penn State a continuation of the coverup. At the time Penn State garnered the rewards of the program: recruiting, publicity, alumni fund raising, etc and a retroactive change to the record books will not punish them for covering things up. A death penalty (not the current “no bowl games”) the length of the coverup is punishment.

    Stripping MZB (or Delany) of awards is just a way to have the cake of having celebrity guests, meeting the authors, etc while also getting to eat the cake of “look at how moral I am”.

    Consider the SFWA and DragonCon concerning Ed. Yes, the DragonCon committee knew about Ed and yes he got paid from con proceeds but during the period the owners were trying to get him to sell out of his minority share. They checked a variety of legal avenues and were force closed*. When they finally succeeded after the 2011 Connecticut arrest I didn’t see them as trying to cover up because they had a record of working the process for a decade beforehand.

    In contrast the SFWA only removed him from the public members list (one wonders about actual membership) when Vox Day publicly pointed out he was still a member. That smacks of trying to hide shame more than disassociate oneself from someone.

    Finally, the evil a man does should no more be interred with their bones anymore than the good. Instead, they need to be weighed in determining the value of something. It is good to try and understand art on its own but to do so isn’t human. Also, as was pointed out two days ago, art that moves us inevitably contains something of its creator. I think it is good to ask ourselves what that part is and why we respond to it, even if sometimes we have to look at dark parts of ourselves.

    * In fact, I wonder if his delaying the case was to forestall them. One option was to dissolve and reorganize but they could not dissolve while a shareholder had pending legal action against him under Georgia law.

    1. The issue continues to be the same: deciding right and wrong based on QUILTBAG depictions of identity as opposed to principle. Orson Scott Card gets active boycotts for not buying into gay marriage and Delany get a career award though supporting the normalization of sexual relations between men and children.

      Can you imagine this crew within SFWA giving Card such a distinction? The two sides are essentially using two different languages, two sets of laws, and intersectionalism rancidly basing their laws on being a women, gay, nor not white as an eternal “not guilty.” That cannot be unless you want to institutionalize supremacist neo-Nazism. Surprise, that philosophical space is exactly what the SFWA advocates as its default orthodoxy.

      What kind of fool retweets “Space: not just for white men anymore.”

      The same fool who Tweeted this on a issue unrelated to Delany/MZB:

      “Ink-Stained Wretch ‏@StevenGould 2h When we are silent when those associated with us perpetuate misogyny or racist speech we =are= maintaining a system that needs destroying.”

    2. I’d oppose striping people of their awards no matter what they’d done. What is the point of that? They were deemed worthy of the award when they got it. Enough said.

      I felt the same way about Lance Armstrong. Yeah, he cheated, but he passed all your tests just like all the other cheaters did. The problem is you had crappy tests. That’s not his fault. Once you certified his performance and scores done is done.

      The “retroactive” thing, seems to me, to be just and excuse for not solving the problem, whatever it is, NOW.

  11. The detection of someone you interact with as a pedo (or rapist or whatever) is not exactly straight forward.

    For example, there’s a man with whom I have moderately frequent interactions as part of $dayjob who comes across as, well, sleazy. He also seems to travel around Indochina more often than would seem justified from a pure business motive, yet that is his stated reason for going there. If, some years hence, it turns out this guy is a pederast, or worse, then I will not be surprised but I have no evidence other than intuition and I would never ever want to judge or convict someone based on evidence like that. Obviously if he were to go out drinking with me one night and start discussing the finer points of 10 year old posteriors then that would be different but in the one time we did encounter each other socially (at an industry conference) our conversation was about entirely neutral topics.

    On the whole, and despite all the revelations in recent years, these sorts of behaviors are not common. Hence, I think that humanity as a whole does better by giving someone the benefit of the doubt because otherwise you end up suspecting everyone else and that is not a healthy mental state for society. We’ve already seen some examples of how this goes wrong by the fact that almost no male teachers are found in elementary schools.

  12. I presume the depositions are authentic. They have that feel.

    They do. I would still prefer that pdfs of the original documents, with the court seals, be posted as an addendum to the retyped posted copies. That is the current method in other reports of court documents. As the Godin site first went up 15 years ago, I’m not at all surprised that his methods are somewhat not matching what is “proper” now.

    And please don’t think I’m impugning MZB’s daughter, I’m sure difficult, coming out with her own story. I believe this is all true, simply because it has that feel and it connects with the history other people peripheral to the circle, have talked about.

    It does sound correct, and I can not help but feel grief for a person forced to share that pain with the world.

    But…MZB’s daughter is not an heir to her mother’s estate. That estate is under the control of someone who the daughter has implicated as being complicent in the abuse. It is not at all outside the range of human behavior for someone to make claims of dubious provanence in order to have a judge award them a portion of the estate.

    Rule of law demands, I think, that we subject the daughter’s claims to close inspection, and require additional support beyond her bare word. Not because we hate the daughter or want more harm done to her or support the harm done to her in the past, but because that is how our society manages claims, attacks, and accusations.

    The SJWs have already lost sight of this. If this end of the spectrum does as well, then SFF may truely be lost.

    1. Rule of law demands, I think, that we subject the daughter’s claims to close inspection, and require additional support beyond her bare word. Not because we hate the daughter or want more harm done to her or support the harm done to her in the past, but because that is how our society manages claims, attacks, and accusations.

      I disagree. Rule of law demands we do so if we wish to take collective actions. If the goal is to strip some of the estate from her chosen heir or, if she was alive, to jail her then we need to follow those rules.

      However, if we’re choosing how to exercise with whom we associate legalism is a dead end. I include in such choices who private organizations give membership which includes cons (after all it is called a membership). As I noted above I now run an event (a retreat). We have excluded people for actions on less than perfect evidence. We had to balance possible bad results if what the evidence implied was born out against the value to be had by including that person.

      Insisting on the rule of law standards in every action is just as legalistic as the SJWs and just as damaging in the end. Both strip us, as individuals, of the opportunity to use our own judgment in governing ourselves and those things we create.

      1. I am…not yet persuaded.

        (I would like to note with appreciation your stance on stripping people of past awards for current misconduct. But is that, too, not a case of “freedom of association”?)

        I absolutely agree with the idea that groups should be allowed to exclude people for various reasons – and I also could show you where that has led to horrific miscarriages of justice and the execution of personal vendettas.

        I’ll grant you that individual people should be able to make their own choices – communicate with a person or not, be in the same room as a person or not – based on anything at all. However, once we start moving from individual actions to group actions, we take on, I feel, a much higher standard of proof.

        If I give the impression of insisting on courtroom-worthy evidence, I apologize, I do not mean to go that far. At the same time, I do not think that ‘what someone else said’ at third and fourth remove is evidence of…anything.

        (I have a bad personal history with rumors – both ones about me and ones I have (incorrectly) believed about others. It bleeds over into other things.)

        1. I don’t much fancy the “strip them of past honors” idea. Perhaps put up an asterisk explaining the “not recognized as problems at the time of award but hoo-boy, embarrassing now” issues.

          Taking it well outside SFWA, look at the Baseball Hall of Fame. It enshrines some people as great players, as athletes who defined the way the game was played in spite of the fact that those people were loathsome human beings by any moral standard, in their own era almost as much as now (at the time of his career, Ty Cobb’s racism was not viewed with the same panty-knotting horror it now evokes, e.g.) Should the Cooperstown museum purge those enshrined, or should it accept that people are complex and that the same demons which make a person a great performer in one field of endeavor may make them monsters in other realms?

          As much as our society currently mocks Victorian mores we are in many ways far more judgmental about bad thinking than the Victorians ever dreamed of being. Adolescents get the icks over the idea that Mummy & Daddy did the nasty — eventually you ought grow up and express appreciation of their having done so … while at the same time eschewing any desire for details.

          Warts and all is the only way to preserve the past and treat the present — just try to avoid focusing on the warts to the exclusion of the better aspects.

          1. I don’t much fancy the “strip them of past honors” idea. Perhaps put up an asterisk explaining the “not recognized as problems at the time of award but hoo-boy, embarrassing now” issues.

            I LIKE this solution.

            It avoids the airbrush effect, and makes it so attacking the dead is not a useful tactic to improve the standing of didn’t-get-the-award groups, and if in the future the “oh boy, embarrassing” impulse is itself embarrassing– win win win!

        2. If I give the impression of insisting on courtroom-worthy evidence, I apologize, I do not mean to go that far.

          That was, in fact, the impression I took from Rule of Law and why I reacted the way I did. I have known plenty of people who have argued personal opinion should be set aside if a court of law has not ruled or if it has found someone not guilty (even though that’s not the same as innocent).

          At the same time, I do not think that ‘what someone else said’ at third and fourth remove is evidence of…anything.

          Agree…noted in my personal example:

          We have excluded people for actions on less than perfect evidence. We had to balance possible bad results if what the evidence implied was born out against the value to be had by including that person.

          Excluding MZB from a con on the Breen depositions as a safety factor would be a bit much, but if she was alive today her daughter’s statement combined with the past history vis a vi Breen would be much different. In the case I handled a large event such as a con the reason we turned someone down wouldn’t have been sufficient in my mind even though it was for a retreat due to different expectations and therefore different risks to other attendees as well as a different loss to the individual in question.

    2. Here’s a point about the whole “strip them of their awards” idea: By doing so, you’re camouflaging the issue from people new to the situation, and creating an entirely erroneous image for others to look at, in years to come.

      Which is a better path? To pull a full-scale Soviet-style “write them out of history” operation, expunging their awards, and ohbytheway, exonerating the people that gave the awards in the first place, for not doing their due diligence before expending their credibility and good faith? What’s the effect of that, for someone looking at the situation in decades to come? Are they even going to be able to find out what the situation was, without doing some seriously deep research? Follow that path, and I believe that one side-effect will be the continued chilling effect of hero-worship, and guiding people to think that these high-and-mighty, ever-so-respected figures of authority and respect are incapable of doing wrong. When I run into these “let’s whitewash what happened” types, the thing that strikes me is that they’re more worried about protecting the “reputation” of the organization, as opposed to the integrity of it all. When you take away the award, you’re actually conducting a cover-up, and excusing the people who gave the award in the first place. This is a bad thing, in my mind, because it tends to build up unrealistic expectations in the minds of people coming into the organization.

      Myth-making about people is bad. You build them up, a la what was done with George Washington during the early 1800s, and you create a persona and reputation for them that utterly destroys the real person, and leads to people disregarding their very real accomplishments when they discover the truth of the matter. Sure, George Washington owned slaves, and likely did not chop down a cherry tree, but let’s give the man credit for what he did do, which was defuse an incipient (and, pretty justified) officer revolt, after Congress screwed over the Continental Army’s pay after the Revolution. Let us also remember that George Washington was the man who turned down an offer he received of being made king over the Colonies, an act that won even the admiration of King George.

      When you start to revise the reality of history by going back and taking away awards, you distort and hide the reality. A young person who is brought up in a world where the convenient and comfortable revision of history that deletes the awards given MZB is not going to have the benefit of learning that even the publicly respected and honored authority figures can have feet mired in the clay of criminal and abusive behavior–Which is just going to help the next generation of exploitation by authority figures, because they’ve been enabled to maintain that pristine facade.

      Better, I say, to leave the awards there as a salutary lesson, with full annotation of the particulars, along with a full description of how and why the people granting the award managed to miss this nasty little facet of MZB’s life. That way, some kid who picks up the books she wrote is then going to have the full story, and be immunized from the wide-eyed hero-worship that likely enabled a lot of what MZB and Breen got away with. “Oh, they’re artists… They do that…”.

      I would go so far as to say that the people who gave the awards to MZB really ought to require the publishers of her works who use that award in their advertising of it to also publish the full story of what went on, and why the award now has an asterisk appended to it. That’s how it ought to work, so that the full story is known to all who pick up her works.

      One thing that really irritates the living hell out of me is that people look at creatures like Roman Polanski, and excuse them for their behavior because they’re “great artists”. WTF? I mean, seriously… Is there any other endeavor that allows you that sort of leeway? Aside from politics, that is…

      There’s some new stuff out about Gary Glitter, recently, too. The whole thing plays in together, when you look at things from the right angle. I’m afraid I’ve become highly suspicious of any of these so-called celebrity figures, whether they’re in the community of letters, or anywhere else that the fame vampires dwell. There’s something a little off, mentally, about all these types, particularly the ones that seek the spotlight. Creativity often comes with a price, and that price is usually mental and moral stability. Fully-centered people are generally pretty damn boring, but a hell of a lot easier to live with. The high mad laughter of the creative types tends to grate a bit, after awhile, and they often do things that just leave you going “Really? You did that? To who? Sweet Jeebus… I don’t even know what to say, but you ought to be neutered… GTFO my life. Now.”.

      1. Well said. I offer just one mild addition.

        Life as a celebrity is not all sweetness & light. Take a teen idol like (can’t hide my age on this, can I?) Bobby Sherman or David Cassidy or … I dunno — the industry churns up a new one every few years, don’t it?

        Say you are David Cassidy, 21-years-old, sitting in a bar enjoying a drink and checking out the chicks. D’ya think any of them* would give you the time of day? How many times do you think you can stand to hear “Oh Gawd!!! My kid sister LOVES you!” while being shot down?

        So you give up, swig down the last drink and go up to your room. In your bed (the bribed a bellman), naked, you find a couple of 14-year-old twins who look seventeen and swear they’re twenty!

        Is it any wonder their careers end badly?

        *Okay, except the hookers.

          1. Write it? I just did!

            Expanding it to story-level would require letting the muse back in my life and that [wre]tch was interred in an unmarked grave in a lost woods long long ago.

            Besides, compared to accounting, professionally writing is a terrible bore and the CPE requirements horrid.

        1. So you give up, swig down the last drink and go up to your room. In your bed (the bribed a bellman), naked, you find a couple of 14-year-old twins who look seventeen and swear they’re twenty!

          See, things like that really happen. And, when they do, I’m not too sure how I feel about it, to tell the truth. There’s a world of difference between the scenario you just laid out, and something like what Breen was up to. Breen’s conduct was clearly evil, to my value system, but…

          Your scenario? Wow. I just don’t know. Honestly, I’m not sure how that situation ought to be adjudicated. I’m kinda leaning towards “Well, young ladies, you’ve just assumed the full rights and prerogatives of adulthood, with regards to your sexual activities. Congratulations, have fun with it… And, could I have a word with the people who raised you, assuming they weren’t wolves?”.

          I’m really not too sure what the hell I’d vote, if I were on a jury trying to make sense of that one. I just don’t know…

          1. Congratulations — any man who says “I would send them from the room forthwith” is akin to the greenhorn saying what he would do on combat (you don’t know until you have seen the elephant.)

            Now, s’pose you do the honorable thing … and the lassies say “We’ll tell the cops you tried to seduce us!”

            Best advice is to make sure you never get caught in such a situation, but that is easier said than done. It is probably a reason celebs have an entourage (which presents a whole new level of risk.)

            1. “Now, s’pose you do the honorable thing … and the lassies say “We’ll tell the cops you tried to seduce us!””

              At which point, they are trying to rape him.

              1. Ayup — and as it is two against one and everybody knows no (hetereo) man would turn down an offer of sex from nubile females.

                Even if he can find the bellman they bribed to get into the hotel room (we can be sure the lasses description of the bellman would be very useful in this) it is likely that (barring their DNA and/or lipstick on his crotch) the bellman would not readily confess his complicity in granting access. Not that the lasses couldn’t claim “all we wanted was his autograph but he made us take off our school uniforms!”

                Any way this goes he is screwed.

                1. What he needs is to start recording the encounter the moment it happens. Then it’s not his word against theirs.

                  1. Enter room.

                    Hear voices/see girls/whatever.

                    Yell “INTRUDER!!! HELP!!!” and run out of the room. (Why would two naked women you don’t know be in your room if they didn’t have some sort of horrible plan for you? can be your justification for yelling down the house.)

                    Also good for discouraging surprise parties!

                    He just left the bar, so there is no way that they could claim he brought them up there, and it might dissuade future attempts.


                    Incidentally, every time I’ve had an answer for “what would you do if….” and someone responded with a “you can’t know until it happens” and it happened, I did exactly what I theorized I would do.
                    Not sure if that’s because I don’t guess at the answer, or because I’d thought out what I’d do so there didn’t need to be any special thought involved.

          2. One of my buddies was living in the dorms and the Sunday after a major all school party when he heard one of his floor mates yell “WHAT DO YOU MEAN SHE WAS ONLY 14?!?!”

            Personally, when I was 21, I probably wouldn’t have thought about it twice. A lot has changed since then.

            1. See, things like that are why I have a hard time with automatically condemning the male half of the equation in these matters. I’m not saying that it’s true in every case, but there are those situations where the young lady in question truly has been the initiator, if not the actual aggressor.

              I watched a friend of mine go down for underage boinking, while I was in Germany. And, having met the girl before he took her home, I would have sworn on a stack of bibles that the young lady had to have been of age. She turned out not to be, to the tune of about age 13. She was, however, out in the clubs, and actually picked my very shy friend out as her “first time”. And, it being Germany, the locals weren’t too concerned, but when the military got wind of the situation…? It wasn’t pretty. Even with her parents coming in and saying that they knew what she’d been up to, and were more-or-less not too concerned, he still went down for violating the UCMJ. Having a commander with daughters around that age, and who’d been prone to doing the same sort of idiotic things probably didn’t help him any.

              Girls are not automatically the shy young innocents many stereotype them as. They’re just as sexual, and just as manipulative at young ages as they can be, later on. I’ve been around a couple of these situations, and the level of sophistication and experience some of them have demonstrated just absolutely shattered any belief I had in the inherent innocence of youth. I remember one girl who was going around the Seattle area and advertising in CraigsList as though she were an adult, entrapping older men into sexual situations, and then blackmailing them after “confessing” that she was only 15… If I remember the story right, she was actually 13-14, and had a fairly lengthy history of doing things like this. And, should you wonder, she was carrying off appearing as though she were in her late teens, early twenties. I was shown pictures of her, and I would have easily bought that as her actual age. Strange, evil young lady–One of her victims supposedly committed suicide, and when she was caught up with, she had no remorse for it at all, describing the guy as “…a pu**y…”. Most of those details have likely vanished into the juvenile privacy vacuum, but we got a through briefing on the situation because there was concern that a similar MO might be used as part of an entrapment scheme for intelligence purposes around the 9/11 timeframe. The information we were given was eye-opening, to say the least–She’d somehow come up with very good fake ID showing her as age 18 and 21, with another set that she used to “prove” she was 15. And, what’s the worst thing about this? She came up with the whole scheme on her own, supposedly… Chilling to consider, isn’t it?

              Another case that springs to mind was an interview I saw done about some young underage thing that had been caught in a lie to a less well-known celebrity she’d had a crush on. When the interviewer asked her if she’d thought about the damage she’d do to the guy’s life if they’d have consummated the act, and then he’d been caught, she pretty much just looked at the interviewer as though she were stupid, and then said something to the effect that it wasn’t her problem–All she was worried about was being able to say she’d “banged so-and-so”.

              So, yeah… There are victims out there who were molested at young ages, and that’s horrible. However, huge ‘effing comma, there are also underage “seekers of molestation”, to coin a term. And, I’m not so sure that there aren’t more of them than we’re willing to admit to ourselves. I think I told the story of hearing a woman confess to her first sexual experience having been going into the father’s bedroom on a sleepover, and then “taking advantage” of his state of medicated and/or drunkenness to have her “first time”. That’s another one of those cases where I’m really not sure how I’d be voting in the jury room, if I got called to that particular duty…

              1. One old memory of a girl younger than I was (legally old enough by then) boasting to me of having lost her virginity at a young age and then having had frequent sex with adult men starting back when she was definitely underage. I think she was trying to embarrass me, and scoring points (in her mind, at least) by pointing out that even though somewhat younger she was way more sexually experienced than I was.

                And I don’t think that as a teen and young adult I ever heard of anybody telling much of those escapades they had with boys their age or younger, the ones those girls who boasted of their sexual encounters boasted of were the ones when they had snared somebody older, or a full adult (or claimed they had). Getting adults (assumptions, but that’s what teens have before they get actual experience) meant they were more mature, more women than girls even if their chronological age was still that of a girl. Plus that older boys and men, presumably being more experienced, were better in bed, and could both pleasure and teach those girls so that they would then become more desirable because more skilled.

                Presumably the same thing which drives these former child and teen stars who go slutty the second they can – they want to be adults, and assume sex is the main difference between childhood and adulthood (or have figured out it sells, but anyway… and part why it sells is – besides the shock effect, and dirty old men – is that lots of their fans do also think that same thing, that sex is the difference, and once you have sex you count as an adult)

                1. I heard a mind-twisting argument on this issue from a woman, once, and her position was phrased in a manner that made it very hard for me to argue with.

                  She’d started her sex life early, and with older, adult males. Her first sexual partner was in his fifties, to hear her tell it. Her actual age? Unknown, but well below the official age of consent. She chose him, and her timing very deliberately, and it was fully her choice. Why? Because, as she put it to me “If you were learning to drive, would you want to learn from someone who just started out, another teenager, who had no experience, and no maturity? Would you let another 15 year old teach your daughter how to drive? No? Then, why on earth do you think it’s a good idea for her to learn her sexuality from her peers, when it’s so important, and so risky? Why wouldn’t you want her to learn such an important skill from someone experienced, who knows how to do it safely and without the dangers an inexperienced lover can bring to things?”.

                  This was my reaction:


                  Nathan Fillion captured the look and feel that I had at the end of that conversation with utter clarity and perfection. When I saw that scene, I flashed right back to talking to her that night.

                  I was never able to come up with a good answer to her, for that whole line of thought. She was definitely a free-thinker, and coming at life from an angle that few ever recognize, and with a force that few ever have to reckon with. Knowing her in her twenties, I’m pretty sure I’d have been intimidated by her when she was in her teens, no matter how old I was. I had a good ten, fifteen years on her when we had that conversation, and I still think she had the better of me throughout.

                  1. …How on earth could you convey the wrong to someone who thinks their “sexuality” is like a freaking car?

                    Good metaphor for someone who wants to be a high level prostitute– actually, pretty similar to how my folks choose bulls for the heifers, although without the realization of possible physical harm from the size of the calf or the action itself, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that historically those supplying prostitutes used the theory– but a horrible one for a healthy human being that expects to be part of the section of humanity that will continue the species successfully, above the level of animals.

                    1. Y’know, I still don’t know what to think on that whole deal. At the time, her certainty/charisma over what she was saying left me speechless. Ever meet someone who was so utterly certain of themselves that it was positively contagious, and only long after you left the conversation, you went “Hey, wait a minute…”? That was her.

                      And, the weird thing is, I still can’t find a decent way to refute her viewpoint from the way she framed it, which was where she totally seemed to separate the acts of sex from the emotional aspects of it all. The ethos she’d come up with seemed to be that the two things were totally separate–The hydraulic/mechanical aspects of “Tab A into Slot B” being the things she felt should be learned as separate, discrete skills as opposed to the emotional aspects that go along with committed sex between lovers. Her justification for her choices was that she wanted to be fully up to speed with the necessary skills involved before she took a serious lover into her heart.

                      Notably, when I knew her, in her mid-twenties or so, she still hadn’t found someone she was serious about. Why that was, I don’t even want to speculate. She was sexually active, though–And, I think she looked at it as an impersonal hobby, kinda like golf or something. Very strange woman, in that respect–She was more like some of the guys I knew who were “players”, but she mercifully didn’t visibly do the emotional gaming that a lot of women with similar outlooks did. Pure, physical sex was her thing, when it came to that.

                      The viewpoint is not mine, at all. From my position, if sex doesn’t include affection and caring, what the hell is the point? I don’t see sacrificing privacy and intimacy for casual sex being worth the trouble, to be quite honest. She, however, felt that there were two things going on–An athletic event, so to speak, and then the emotional one. She wasn’t a prostitute, but her outlook on matters sexual sort of reminded me of the one that the Greek hetaerae were supposed to have had towards the entire thing–There was sex, and then there was love. The two didn’t necessarily have to ever meet.

                      Culturally, I don’t think this way of looking at things is necessarily “wrong” in the sense that it wouldn’t “work”, for a given value of functioning in a society. I am, however, pretty sure I wouldn’t want to live there.

                    2. *shrug* It’s not possible to really answer/refute someone who is starting by assuming what they’d have to prove; that sex is like team tennis, nothing more.

                      She wanted to believe that sex was like driving, so she defined it that way. The only thing that’s a bit odd is that she was a 20-something female, not a 20-something male– their personal redefinition of sex as just pleasant friction doesn’t do a damn thing to prevent the damage they do to others, or– from those I’ve seen when they’re older, both male and female– to themselves.

                      I knew a couple of somewhat similar females in the Navy; one was even pretty sweet, and I think was actually just painfully lonely…so she told herself that sex was just like a sport, so she could feel like someone wanted her.

                      The worst example I know of for males was also in the Navy. He had something like six or eight ex-wives, his current one had moved to the far end of Japan to avoid him, he had at least one girlfriend in each of our two main ports and would sleep with pretty much anything that would hold still, so long as it wasn’t on the ship. (…that I know of)
                      Miserable guy, and absolutely positive that everyone else was as sex obsessed as himself. He spent MONTHS trying to “catch” me sleeping with the entire geek group, although I didn’t figure it out until my chief asked me about it. Carefully, since he knew I was clueless…..

        2. But I’m not sure those teen idol scenarios play out that way. David Cassidy married Kay Lenz (who was pretty hot back in the day) in his late twenties. Leif Garrett dated Nicolette Sheridan through many of her hottest days when he was well past his heyday. Justin Bieber (fer crying out loud) can’t seem to get rid of Selena Gomez no matter how much of an idiot he is. As far as I know none of these guys couldn’t get as much attention as they wanted from women their own age. I bet Roman Polanski didn’t need to drug and molest a 13 year old.

          Honestly, I’m pretty sure a deviant is always a deviant and they take advantage of whatever opportunities come their way.

          1. Which isn’t to say a guy can’t be fooled by an underage girl- but pedophilia is a whole different issue. Those perverts are looking for a girl that looks prepubescent. I wouldn’t convict a guy who thought a girl was older if she looked over 18.

            1. ’tis that whole “look” thing that causes the problem, to be honest.

              That case I reference above, with the CraigsList blackmailer? If you saw the pictures she used to lure her victims/victimizers in with, you’d say “…easy 18, if she’s a day…”. Looking at the picture we were shown of her the day she went into juvenile court? Pigtails, teddy bear, and a very twee little outfit. You’d never believe it was the same person. But, it was…

              I think you’d really have to set the bar at “What was the evidence he was looking at, at the time he made the decision to actually sleep with her?”. If you’re in an over-21 club, and a girl comes up to you with an alcoholic drink in her hands, would that not tend to make you think that you’d be a fool to frighten her off by asking to see her ID? And, yet… That same situation has gotten a lot of young men into trouble for the under-age thing. If she’s under age, and you pick her up in an elementary school playground, that’s child molestation. If, on the other hand, she’s the same age, and you meet her in an over-21 venue when she propositions you with a clearly-sexual come-on…? What’s the call?

              Some of the cases I’ve seen over the years, I’d really like to have been able to totally exonerate the purported “child molester”, and charged the supposedly responsible adults who raised the “victim”, to be quite honest.

              On the other hand, I suppose there are some young ladies who are just precocious. Never met one who wasn’t a victim of some sort of parental misconduct, however…

              1. It’s funny, I thought of that exact thing after I posted. If I were a guy I’d be scared of touching a woman who didn’t have a legitimate picture ID. It would be so easy to entrap a guy who was just looking for some company on his night off…

                1. I suspect few enough guys have any experience being hit upon, leaving them very vulnerable to predatory femmes. Think what a “dual-aged” girl could do to the geeks in the gamer room. (Assuming any noticed her, of course.)

                  1. All she’d have to do is sit down and show interest in what they’re playing. Bonus points for using proper terms BEFORE they’re explained.

                  2. Hell, that was one detail I left out about this girl… She was doing exactly what you suggest, here: Deliberately targeting the socially maladapted geek types, and playing the gamer chick. If I remember right, the young man who killed himself over the blackmail here was in his mid-twenties, sexually inexperienced, and a stereotypical nerd working in an IT job and who was a gamer. The guy who briefed me on this situation told me that the girl was probably his first and only sexual partner.

                    I wish to hell I could remember the names involved, because I can’t find squat on this online. The timeframe we’re talking is somewhere in between 9/11 and when we left for our second deployment in 2005, because I was the Brigade S2 NCOIC when I got fed this stuff in a close-hold memo for me to pass on in intel briefs. Some of the details I’m remembering came out of the Tacoma News-Tribune, and a couple of other sources, but I’ll be damned if I can pull up enough from memory to make the search engines work. I know this happened, but I can’t provide cites for it, which frustrates the hell out of me.

                  3. “Take me now!” “Where? I’ve only got a quarter tank of gas.” I hate to admit it but myself and several other geek males I know have looked back at situations and realized a woman was hitting on us and we had No Clue Whatsoever. Granted, most of us never thought anyone WOULD hit on us which explains why it went over our heads.

                    1. There was a joke about a young man going out for a date and his father asked if he had protection. The son said that he had a knife. The father’s response was to offer his son a handgun. [Grin]

                    2. *laughs* Oh that’s cute. I dunno, but for a gal like me that’s plus points on the cute scale.

                      My youngest brother was probably lucky he had an elder sister and an elder sis-in-law to be to point out that the ‘quiet, studious girl’ (who took a month and a half to undertake a project that resulted in a very large birthday card filled with book-shaped cutouts with well wishes from the entirety of their course-mates) was shyly proclaiming her attraction to him.

                      Brother: “What, really?! You think so?!” *looks at huge birthday card* “Friends don’t do this?”

                      Sis in law to be and me: No.

                      That was five or six years ago; they’re still together, being a very cute, and refreshingly sensible couple.

                2. There’s a reason I don’t hit the clubs any more. After a certain point in your life, the game loses attraction, and instead of “Gee, I’d like to get to know you better…”, the thing that runs through your mind is “Gee, what’s the issue you’re hiding?”.

                  These days, I’d probably be immune to the problem, because I’ve become so jaded and cynical that I’d probably look the gift horse of my one true beloved in the mouth, and go “Nope. Not playing… Try elsewhere, please.”.

                  One of the interesting things I learned in my old job was just how easy it is to fake ID. Some of the exemplars we were shown were actually better quality than the real ones you get from the state–And, that’s a recognition point. You may need to take a damn tooth sample, if you want something reliable.

                  1. It’s probably not true anymore but for the old Bill Jordan style Border Patrol life in the big cities was a hardship assignment for folks who signed up to ride the river. Reassignment to the slums of Chicago say was based on familiarity with regional craftsmanship on fake ID.

                  2. I chatted up one of the security guys from a popular bar at Flat State U, and he said they spent about an hour a week, all the bouncers/security guys/night-shift bartenders from four or five of the watering holes, comparing fake IDs so they’d all be up on the latest.

    3. I was thinking yesterday of the child-abuse scandals of 25 or 30 years ago, and of the “recovered memory” fueled accusations. It’s not a good comparison, but I think it’s a caution. Delaney appears to support the unsupportable, but without evidence of crime, he’s one more of a lamentably long line of author/academics capable of supporting anything from eugenics to jihad. The Bradley depositions look bad, but is there any corroborating evidence of the daughter’s accusations?

      1. >>>Delaney appears to support the unsupportable

        As you say, the list of sinners (and sins) is long and distinguished. Half the time, we go, “what on earth were they thinking, letting him hang around that long?” The other half, we go, “Now why would they get all upset over *that*?”

        >>>corroborating evidence

        To my knowledge, at this time, none. The charges are severe and must not be ignored. At the same time, I am not sure how this could be proven or disproven, and so we are left with the next-to-worst option. (The worst would be unproveable accusations when the accused was still alive.)

  13. It is interesting, the last time I encountered this thought experiment, the poster (very different community) insisted that the only option was flip the switch one way or the other, any other answer was not only unacceptable, but impossible. The breaks were broken and not enough room to stop, the horn didn’t work, there was no radio, your cell phone was smashed… the list went on and on as the vast majority of his respondents were looking for any and every other option. It is good to see it being used the other way around. (less so that the audience reaction was the other around.)

  14. I’m surprised you think the anti-intersectional drivers in this case are actually trying to tar anyone in the SFWA. What it clearly is to me is saying “Here’s your own so-called ‘logic’ and ‘principles – eat ’em.” It’s a prank. The actual message is: it’s ALL wrong.

    The best way to prank someone is to show them how they look in their own mirror. That’s why quotes and changing identities while changing only one or two words is so effective. If someone is saying the film “Noah” is too white, you come at them a month later with something is too Arab or black, and then watch the tears roll. Better yet, Tweet one of their own exact quotes to the community changing only one word. Most people won’t recognize the real source. Result: tears roll, red faces all around.

    There are red faces all around.

  15. The sad truth is, the same kind of people who screamed in the 90’s that Bill Clinton’s conduct in his bedroom and his infidelity to his wife was not grounds for impeachment (even though he was being impeached for perjury; the idiot should have simply taken the fifth and all would have been… not ‘well,’ but certainly not impeachable) and declared that only a person’s record as a public servant should be weighed when deciding who to vote for are the same kinds of people that want to give the Dwight Schrute “shun” to people guilty of badthink.
    The sad fact is, these morons worry more about the veneer than about potential rot under the surface. Roman Polanski is given a pass while Charlton Heston is the devil incarnate.
    Sarah, you go right ahead and be pro gay marriage. My stance on it? With backgrounds in both military and law enforcement, plus my religious convictions, I think monogamous traditional marriage for life is important and that God gave it to us because it fosters healthy gender modeling and emotionally healthy children. Statistically, the further we deviate from a mom and dad who love their kids and love and are faithful to each other, the higher the risk that children and moms will suffer emotional, physical or sexual abuse, live in poverty, and have lifetimes of involvement as inmates in the criminal justice system. I think it behooves society to have laws that encourage monogamous traditional marriage for life. That said, once society departs from that model, I think it behooves society to have the government not involved in marriage to the greatest extent possible, and have only state or local government involved in family law to ensure that kids have the best chance possible to beat those odds when parents get stupid. No government should be able to tell a church that they have to endorse or solemnize any type of domestic arrangement other than what that church declares its doctrine to endorse. And while the age of consent is a largely arbitrary line, it’s important to have that line, and violations of that line should be prosecuted without discrimination. Finally, anyone over the age of consent should not be prosecuted for what they consent to do to each other behind closed doors, but people are subject to public decency laws passed by their communities.

    That’s my ever-so-humble opinion on gay marriage, but you’re a reasonable person, Sarah, so feel free to differ from me as you will. I’m not offended. Why? Because I’m an adult, and I’m capable of differing in opinion with someone without hating them. I don’t know a whole lot about the SFWA, but assuming what people are saying to be true, they have a bunch of children running their thoughtcrime division rather than simply protecting the contractual interests of their members, as would appear to be their charter. With the rise of self-e-publishing, I’d bet they’re pride is here; the fall’s coming soon.

    Great blog, Sarah. I’m learning a lot about publishers from you.

    1. the higher the risk that children and moms will suffer

      You’ve left out another group that will suffer: the fathers.

      Yes, some cads will enjoy the freedom from responsibility. Far more non-cads will mourn the loss of love and support that comes with marriage. They’ll mourn the children killed by women who want to remain “independent”, the loss of children and wives to divorce, and the loss of hope that results when they have to compete with the bottomless pockets of Uncle Sam for the attentions of women. (Dalrymple, as always, has something apposite to say on this subject:

      And when men can’t get married, we have no particular incentive to work, fight, bleed, kill, or die for the benefit of women and their children. Why work to make the world a better place for someone else’s kids when we could sit around the fire eating fermented fruit and telling stories of the hunt, or sit in front of the computer monitor while pwning N00BZ, or go out to the bar/cathouse and get laid for the price of a few beers?

      1. Becoming a dad (at 42) was the best thing that ever happened to me – and the most frightening, because I took it seriously. There was this little blanket-wrapped bundle with HUGE eyes looking up and me as if to say… “Okay, that was interesting. What’s next?”

        What’s next was I became a real adult, instead of simply being old enough to be one.

          1. Becoming a parent has been one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. Here is this life that is completely dependent on you. And as soon as they can start moving, they start trying to find new and interesting ways to kill themselves. What is it with sticking everything in their mouths?

            I looked at my wife the other night and said “I’m not ready to be a responsible adult and parent.” She responded with “Neither am I. I guess it sucks to be us.” I’m kind of glad we decided early that 1) we’ve already broken our daughter so let’s not expect to be perfect parents and 2) we’re doing the best we can with what we’ve got. As long as we love her, feed her, keep her clean and try and show her how to be a good person, everything should be OK.

            1. “As long as we love her, feed her, keep her clean and try and show her how to be a good person, everything should be OK.”

              It will. I sometimes think we’ve lost sight of the need of children to learn how to be adults. We crank them through pre-school, then school, then kick them into the world without any real idea of what the world’s like, except what they’ve seen in kid’s shows. (And as much fun as iCarley and Spongebob Squarepants is, they don’t exactly show reality.)

              What they see constantly is you and your wife. How you treat your wife is how your daughter’s going to expect to be treated. How your wife treats you is the model of how she’s going to expect to treat a future husband.

              And how you treat her is how she’ll treat her own kids. I think you’ll do fine – you’re scared just like I was, so you’ll want to do the best you can!


          2. But with hot water and soap, it usually washes off. (Thinking of certain incidents involving various ends and outputs…)

            The hugs and love don’t, though.

            Yeah, being a dad’s the best thing ever.

      2. . They’ll mourn the children killed by women who want to remain “independent”

        That’s a large part of the male pro-life movement, the ones not motivated by the philosophy of human life.

        They lost their babies. To a woman they loved.

        1. I remember an account I read of an Asian-American father pleading, screaming, begging for his wife not to kill their youngest, he would take care of her and all their children. She kept asserting it was her right to choose. He drove with her to the clinic, hoping to plead again, no, please no, don’t kill our child. She went in, and he saw a pro-life advocate standing outside, and he begged and pleaded for help, for someone to save his son or daughter. He cried and cried, as he knew his child was being murdered.

          I’m not sure there would be very many marriages that would survive that kind of non-partnership.

            1. Yeah, but men ‘don’t count’, right?

              On a somewhat tangential thoughtline; Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels series had it that a woman could cause the abortion of a child caused by rape but doing so would render the woman barren. From the description of a woman who was raped in the story and became pregnant from it, it’s implied that this reaction was the natural one for the women of that ‘verse, as she states to her daughter that she had to fight her body’s urge to abort and fight to keep the baby.

              When I read it out loud to my husband, he remarked that it seemed to punish the woman by harming her more than once – first by the rape, second by her own body rejecting the innocent child so violently it prevents further children from being born, and the woman again by never being able to have children.

      3. the higher the risk that children and moms will suffer

        You’ve left out another group that will suffer: the fathers.

        I’d submit that those men who we can’t term fathers because they never became such are not going to suffer at all. Probably some slight angst as they look at those few who manage successful families, but by and large, they’re mostly going to be heaving vast sighs of relief as they note the grief that their comrades with failed marriages and unsuccessful families are going through.

        The people who are going to suffer? Society at large, and in general. We’ve so thoroughly screwed up the “social commons” that I honestly think we’re not too far removed from the late Roman empire, in all too many regards. We might recover, but watching the crap that the fools in the GOP are pulling with candidates like Brat and Cochran, I’m not so sure that we may never pull out of this idiocy.

        1. “Probably some slight angst as they look at those few who manage successful families, but by and large, they’re mostly going to be heaving vast sighs of relief as they note the grief that their comrades with failed marriages and unsuccessful families are going through.”

          Back in college I had a fiance; she left me. I threw myself into school work to get past it. A couple girls at school showed interest, but I was an idiot and coward and didn’t follow through.

          Shortly afterward, my older brother’s wife left him. A year or two later, my other brother’s wife left him. One sister had already left her husband. BTW, mostly it was GOOD that these in-laws were no more.

          So I threw myself into my work. There were a few women I was interested in, but, hell, why put myself at the risk when the batting average for my generation was .250? I’d been through that pain, had no interest in it ever, ever again.

          But now, well, I’m 43, never likely to have kids of my own, probably won’t even have a wife. What I feel about that ain’t a bit of “slight angst”. If I could go back and tell my younger self anything, it’s that the pain of that break-up was nothing compared to looking at life alone.

          (But I made the choices, and know I could likely change things even now. I just feel caught between Hell and Hades…)

          1. I’m pretty much in the same boat that you are. And, frankly, given the manner in which more than a few of my peers have had their lives turned into literal nightmares via the good offices of our family courts, I’m strangely OK with the whole thing.

            But, there are some things I’m very bitter about, in a generalized sense. I look around me, and I note that the system we’ve created seems to value the non-contributions of others above mine, and indeed, even respects and honors the most destructive, abhorrent individuals in society.

            They’re going to make a movie about Bowe Bergdahl, apparently–There are two different ones in development as we speak.

            There has yet to be a single movie made that focuses on any of the Medal of Honor winners out there from this conflict, living or dead. Lone Survivor is the sole exception, and it only mentions the actions that led to LT Murphy earning the award peripherally.

            There’s something very wrong with a social system that enables someone like Joran van der Sloot to not only get married, but to be able to father a child while in prison for murdering another woman. And, that’s where the West has taken itself, with neither my approval or participation. Same thing goes on every day, around American prisons. Normal, seemingly well-balanced women seeking out the worst dregs of society with whom to make families and have children with, knowing full well that they are convicted of the most heinous crimes imaginable. Hell, Charles Manson has legions of followers, who would likely gladly bear his children.

            I’m sort of bemused, at this point: How much lower can these people take things? What’s the next sequence, in the cycle of depravity? In an observational sense, it’s interesting to watch, no matter what the personal implications are.

            And, yes… I completely understand why so many other men are just opting out of the game. From appearances, that’s really a very reasonable choice to make. Not so good for society as a whole, but y’know… They kinda deserve what they’re going to get. I almost wish I’d still be around to watch it make it’s final devolution in a generation or two, but I’m actually glad I won’t be.

  16. Apparently a certaian cretin from The Guardian has finally been roused to outrage over MZB and will be posting a column about it tomorrow. Stay tuned.

      1. No, it’s Heinlein’s fault. The guy was writing from LA or Colorado Springs or wherever he was living at the time and was of a belief that it was character assassination; apparently nobody had showed him the infamous newsletter, either. Sheesh, it looks like almost nobody outside the original recipients saw the eyewitness report. Now that it’s available on the Internet, it’s obviously damning; but previously it was a fannish history footnote.

        Of course, anybody who would have passed along the eyewitness details to the police was apparently not slated to receive the info in any way except vague rumor, which doubtless made the truth of the “rumors” harder to believe, and would make it natural to assume they were just more fannish craziness of factions.

  17. Coming from Mormon heritage, I have never wanted to be in a polygamous marriage or line marriage. Let’s just say that I have heard stories from my great-grandmother about her mother and her own marriage — that were not complimentary and leave it at that. I do see how some of these thought experiments (marriage, child rearing, and 70s improprieties) would have been seductive then. Since I was a teen in the 70s, I saw how many of the girls of my age acted and dressed at that time. Teen pregnancy (one of the girls pregnant at the age of 12) was common in our little area. Doesn’t mean that adult/child was morally right then… it wasn’t. I also have ancestresses who were married and having children at 13.

    I do get weird ideas sometimes. It helps that there is one person in my relationship who has his feet on the ground (the hubby).

    1. The ancestress was married to a man of 27. The youngest girls getting pregnant were by men over 18. The older teen girls were getting pregnant with a boyfriend either the same age or a year older.

    2. IMHO the primary function of Mormon polygamy was to provide for widows and orphans much as other cultures have had rules about a brother marrying his sister-in-law should she be widowed. In a frontier culture with a high level of danger it was a way of dealing with the loss of a family’s breadwinner. That said, I also suspect an underlying thread of serious kink in some of the church leaders given the stories of child brides and early pregnancy. Those were not a widows and orphans problem.
      Today we seem to be faced with the conflict that females mature physically at an earlier age than ever before while maturing culturally and emotionally much more slowly. I have read somewhat credible articles blaming the physical side on the increased use of hormones in the food supply, while the lag in emotional development would seem to me to be entirely a cultural choice exacerbated by the societal demand for increased education levels. Remember, not so very long ago graduating high school was high achievement and reserved for the upper classes. Now it would seem that some college is expected if not demanded. Not something I necessarily agree with.

      1. Well– imho there is a physical maturity difference between northern climes and southern climes (Sarah has mentioned this). For instance I had a friend that was physically mature by the time she was 13. By thirteen I hadn’t hit puberty yet. Since this was in the early 70s, hormones were not really an issue yet (although there was some talk). But– this my be a genotype/phenotype difference rather than a hormone difference.

        Yea, I heard the official “story” about early polygamy. My great-great-grandmother was not a widow or orphan and actually divorced her polygamist husband to marry my great-great-grandfather. My great-grandmother was faced with polygamy after polygamy was supposedly banned. So yea– let’s call them kinks. 😉 BTW a few of my lines were asked to move to Idaho– even though they were true believers. At the time, you found out how you were valued by how far away you were from SLC.

        Back to high school graduation was high achievement, we need to see that again. And I do agree about the emotional lag– It does cause problems with society (even though caused by society).

          1. I hit puberty between 12 and 13, and had C-cups when I was 14, but I was a bit early, at least with the breasts (the damn things also grew fast enough that they got stretch marks, source of endless embarrassment when dressing before and after gym classes during the next years before they started to fade enough to become less noticeable), compared to my classmates.

            1. …12-13 sounds normal. I hit puberty 8-9 years old. And being very grumpy about it, because, damnit, periods and hair in places I felt they shouldn’t belong. None of the other features though, like widening hips or a developing bustline, till I was 14. *sigh*

            2. Geez– didn’t get a breasts until 14 and they were closer to A-B cups. I was almost 30 before they were close to the size now. *sigh I was always slower in the physical side, but very smart.

        1. Cyn, I also come from some of those lines that were asked to move to Idaho, despite being true believers, as you put it.

          I know you have had horrible experiences with the church and with your family. I’m sorry that happened. It shouldn’t have.

          I think it’s coloring your perspective here just a bit regarding how much people were valued, and at least in my family line we don’t regard that as having been any kind of punishment, but an opportunity to serve.

          Some of us see it differently, is all I’m saying.

          > >

          1. Not wanting to get into some of the problems I dealt with– I do love my family very much and I am the “black sheep.” BUT I don’t trust them to do the right thing for me especially when I have a chronic illness, which tells it all–I guess. Of course my perspective is colored– I expect that yours are too by your experiences. I just want to be free– to decide if I want to be religious or not. I had to resort to threats so that my family would quit sending missionaries after me. You’d think when a person says no– it is no.

            Also– I don’t dislike people involved in that particular church for the same reason I don’t dislike people who are Catholics or Protestants or Baptists. I do dislike authority figures. –I had that tendency even before I left. Seeing that I was in the military for a long time, that tendency can become a comedic twist especially when I ended up in charge a lot of the time. 😉

              1. Allen, Bagley, Bird, Benson, Meservy, Larson, etc.– not sure if there are any Ricks– (Ricks college?) but my parents were raised around and went to school in Idaho Falls.

      2. “Remember, not so very long ago graduating high school was high achievement and reserved for the upper classes.”

        I remember a work from the early 20th century where it goes without saying that a girl graduating at the top of her class will get married after high school rather than go to college. Made explicit when a mother talks to her son, a year older than this girl, to point out in no uncertain terms that she’s too old for him, because he is going to college, and by the time he’s settled professionally, enough to marry, she’ll have two or three babies already.

      3. Increased nutrition undoubtedly plays some part in the earlier maturation of contemporary American female childrens. Whether indirectly ingested hormones contribute is a matter that will never — NEVER — be studied scientifically so ling as the current cultural regime is in place.

        Every day all across America, hundreds of thousands of “fertile” females taking birth control pills piddle their excess hormone dosages into our national water supply. Few if any of our potable water filtration methods eliminate those hormones; even if you drink distilled water there will be plenty of aestrogenated water in the fluid content of the food you eat. For obvious reasons any study that might expose the truth of this will not be funded or, if funded, not published without full scrubbing.

        Do these hormones have any effect? Who knows. They are probably a greater concern that BPA but we will never know.

        And you were worried about fluoridation!

        1. Would boiling destroy the estrogen? I usually don’t drink from the tap. I get my water from a local dispensary ($1.25/5gallons) and the sign on the dispenser says it’s highly purified, though it doesn’t mention hormones. Boiling the water before bottling it would be easy enough, or dropping a couple of tsp’s of bleach into the 5gal bottle…

          1. I have no idea. There aren’t, SFAIK*, studies being performed or published.

            *So Far As I Know

        2. Also, there’s the question of how much agricultural runoff contributes estrogen to the water supply. Enormous numbers of hogs are being raised in a modern industrial hog operation — farrowing them has to result in enormous amounts of estrogen in the waste lagoons, which are not always perfectly contained. Beef and dairy operations usually are less intensive than hog operations, but will still have enough pregnant animals to produce significant amounts of waste estrogen that can enter the watershed through improper waste handling.

          And it’s not just animal agriculture. Many pesticides are estrogen-mimics, and plants themselves produce natural estrols which appear to be a form of chemical warfare against the herbivorous animals that eat them, reducing male fertility and thus herbivore populations. So row-crop agriculture may well result in substantial amounts of contaminated runoff that could also have health consequences in humans downstream.

          But you’re right on one thing — as long as it’s a political issue, there’ll be no honest scientific study of the health consequences of environmental estrogen or the proportions various sources contribute. Too many industries and other groups have vested interests in absolving one source and demonizing another, be it hormonal contraceptives, factory farming of livestock, row crop pesticides, or plastics.

          1. Those waste lagoons contain what a farmer affectionately refers to as slurry, ie semi liquid fertilizer. Animal waste is a valuable commodity that gets thinned down and sprayed back on the crops, reducing the need to purchase additional fertilizer. Put it in enclosed holding tanks for storage and you can also bleed off useable quantities of methane gas, another handy substance for farm use.

            Will note that human waste not so much. I recall one attempt to process human excrement into fertilizer, the end product was required to be marked “for flowers and ornamental shrubs only” as it contained levels of heavy metals far in excess of FDA regulations. Will further note that human waste as fertilizer is common practice in most of Asia.

            1. Cyn,
              Someone about a month or so back, may have been our good hostess, made the off hand remark that strict vegan families tended to die out within a couple of generations from a failure to reproduce. Don’t remember all the details, but that factoid managed to stick in my active memory for some reason.

        3. “Do these hormones have any effect? Who knows. They are probably a greater concern that BPA but we will never know.”

          I’m constantly amused by the people who get worked up over BPA but eat tofu and drink soy milk. Soy has way, way more estrogenic compounds than would leach from a bit of plastic.

      4. . I have read somewhat credible articles blaming the physical side on the increased use of hormones in the food supply

        With those animals I’m familiar with, domesticated members go through puberty earlier than the feral members, probably because they have a steady food supply. (Hm, maybe that’s the purpose of fat producing estrogen?)

        1. I’ve also read that it can be related to the presence of males who are not closely biologically related to the female (as in, brother or father close).

          1. The few times I actually read scientific coverage (ie, not a news story– we know how that can…fiddle…with stuff) of it, early puberty was associated with unrelated males– but they didn’t correct for any other stuff, including racial background and when their mom had her cycle. It was a simple yes/no kind of thing.

            If it actually worked that way, wouldn’t bastard girls be hitting puberty ahead of their half-sisters?

            1. I don’t know. What I read was over at Misha’s place, and was a comment about a study that one of the regular commenters’ daughter had been a member of the group performing the study. I never tracked it down, and I don’t want to give details that I may have invented in my own memory, so I was deliberately minimal with information.

              But yes, one would think they would. But without the implication in the study, who would think about that?

              1. Folks here already pointed out they have noticed differences in puberty by ancestral background– and it’s not exactly news that both Mexican and Black families in the US are disproportionately likely to be broken, which means that’s two demographics that folks here already noticed have earlier puberties that would also be likely to have unrelated males in the household.

                It’s kind of like the studies they did that found that coffee is associated with miscarriage… and didn’t bother to find out if there was anything else associated with miscarriage involved, including if the mother had morning sickness. (When they corrected for “did you have really bad morning sickness,” the effect of coffee vanished. Yes, they studied SOMETHING YOU DRINK RIGHT WHEN YOU WAKE UP, in relation to PREGNANCY, and didn’t check up on morning sickness.)

    3. Just to mention… Hot pants, tube tops, etc. were seen a lot (as most of you know). I look at some of the fashions today and think re-purposed 70s. 😉

    4. Coming from Mormon heritage, I have never wanted to be in a polygamous marriage or line marriage. Let’s just say that I have heard stories from my great-grandmother about her mother and her own marriage — that were not complimentary and leave it at that.

      Heck, look at modern girls fighting over a guy who is “seeing” both of them– or just who they’re both INTERESTED in, and have made out with– and then try to believe it’d be easier if they were in the same house and in theory both had his loyalty…..

      1. Or you can look at the very old story of Jacob, Leah and Rachel. Bitterness, jealously, literally trading their husband’s services for favorite foods as if he was a prostitute*… Not pretty. And human nature doesn’t change; it’s still the same now as it was back then.

        * Genesis 30:14-16

        1. The Bible has lots of recorded descriptions of polygamy; none of the plural marriages therein are happy. The Biblical Hebrew term for “sister-wife” (married to the same man) is “tzara” meaning “trouble” or “one who causes distress.”

          Whether one sees this as instructive probably depends on one’s starting positions, but I thought the data points would be interesting.

          1. It’s also interesting to observe that nowhere in the Bible is polygamy ever forbidden. There are various restrictions on it (in the Old Testament, an Israelite man was forbidden from taking his wife’s sister as a second wife while his first wife was alive*; in the New Testament, a man with more than one wife was forbidden from serving as a deacon in the church), but it’s never actually forbidden as a practice. But as you said, the numerous examples of polygamy recorded throughout the Bible, all of them unhappy, are more than enough to discourage anyone most people (there’s always a few foolhardy sorts) from considering it, of course.

            * In other words, don’t do what Jacob did.

  18. What we are seeing in the SFWA drive to purity is often on display in many churches’ efforts to define who is (or more commonly, who isn’t) a “good Christian/Jew/Muslim/Pagan.” It is a fundamental aspect of humans that we seek to identify as part of a group and asserting a group identity often entails a denunciation of “badness” publicly and loudly performed.

    Regarding some of the comments on institutional hypocrisy, this addresses one of the distinctions between Conservative and Progressive thought. Progressives tend to view actions in context of ends reached, Conservatives are more focused on the question of process. (Because people are complex, very few demonstrate this distinction in its Platonic Ideal — we all cut corners for ourselves and criticize others for letting ends justifying means.)

    My own sense is that it is not my place to decide who is or is not “Christian.” I can find a method of worship that is congenial without ruling alternative worship methods trayfe. What matters is not whether we sing our praise hymns on the beat, off the beat or silently, so long as we agree on a uniform method within our own church. Frankly, I find it sufficient challenge to lead my own life and have no interest in telling others how to lead theirs, so long as they limit themselves to consenting adults and eschew “doing it in the streets and scaring the horses.”

    But then, I am not much of one for forging* a “group” identity.

    *A word with multiple possible interpretations, eh?

    1. C.S. Lewis (as he often did) wrote something very applicable to this idea:

      “People ask: “Who are you, to lay down who is, and who is not a Christian?”: or “May not many a man who cannot believe these doctrines be far more truly a Christian, far closer to the spirit of Christ, than some who do?” Now this objection is in one sense very right, very charitable, very spiritual, very sensitive. It has every available quality except that of being useful. We simply cannot, without disaster, use language as these objectors want us to use it. I will try to make this clear by the history of another, and very much less important, word.

      “The word gentleman originally meant something recognisable; one who had a coat of arms and some landed property. When you called someone “a gentleman” you were not paying him a compliment, but merely stating a fact. …There was no contradiction in saying that John was a liar and a gentleman; any more than there now is in saying that James is a fool and an M.A. But then there came people who said – so rightly, charitably, spiritually, sensitively, so anything but usefully – “Ah but surely the important thing about a gentleman is not the coat of arms and the land, but the behaviour? Surely he is the true gentleman who behaves as a gentleman should?…” They meant well. To be honourable and courteous and brave is of course a far better thing than to have a coat of arms. But it is not the same thing. Worse still, it is not a thing everyone will agree about. To call a man “a gentleman” in this new, refined sense, becomes, in fact, not a way of giving information about him, but a way of praising him: to deny that he is “a gentleman” becomes simply a way of insulting him. When a word ceases to be a term of description and becomes merely a term of praise, it no longer tells you facts about the object: it only tells you about the speaker’s attitude to that object. (A ‘nice’ meal only means a meal the speaker likes.) …As a result, gentleman is now a useless word. We had lots of terms of approval already, so it was not needed for that use; on the other hand if anyone (say, in a historical work) wants to use it in its old sense, he cannot do so without explanations. It has been spoiled for that purpose.

      “Now if once we allow people to start spiritualising and refining, or as they might say ‘deepening’, the sense of the word Christian, it too will speedily become a useless word. In the first place, Christians themselves will never be able to apply it to anyone. It is not for us to say who, in the deepest sense, is or is not close to the spirit of Christ. …And obviously a word which we can never apply is not going to he a very useful word. As for the unbelievers, …[i]t will become in their mouths simply a term of praise. In calling anyone a Christian they will mean that they think him a good man. But that way of using the word will be no enrichment of the language, for we already have the word good. Meanwhile, the word Christian will have been spoiled for any really useful purpose it might have served.”

      This may be one reason why the argument “Forget what X said, we all know what X really meant, don’t we?” is so popular as both defense (for one’s allies) and attack (for one’s opponents) in many progressivist fora; when you are used to evaluating words not by an agreed-upon common meaning but by the meaning you attribute to the speaker using them, the words become much less important as a source of information than people’s reactions to the words do.

      1. Thank-you … this will forever colour the way in which I have been accustomed to viewing “Gentlemen’s Clubs,” venues which I had dismissed as being by definition a club no gentleman could frequent. Now I realize the sense employed is that of the nobs being entertained by (apparently) nubile (apparently) young women to their mutual benefit.

        1. Which leads (me) the thought:

          “Church of the Female Form, worship services from 1800 to 0200 daily”.

          1. “With $10 minimum cover tithe, and if you lay profane hands on the Holy Flesh of the Goddesses, Deacon Guido will have a word with you.”

            (Not that I’ve ever been to any of these establishments, oh no… but I can, in clear conscience, now say I have not been inside one in years and years. Thank God.)

      2. We’ve had those “discussions” (ie who is or is not a Christian) on Baen’s Bar (Truth vs Pravda conference) before and I get annoyed at the “isn’t it arrogant for you to say who is or not a Christian” thing especially from those who don’t accept the Christian label.

        However, I had to LOL over one individual’s “rant” on the Bar about the Robert Asprin book titled “E. Godz” (published by Baen). His rant was that the book contained people calling themselves Wiccans that were not Wiccans by his standards. It was very very assuming. [Very Big Grin]

        1. I like to let people self-describe; if you say you’re a Christian, then I will describe you as one. Thus, I don’t get into the “who is a Christian?” fights.

          1. As a Mormon, I’m on the receiving end of the “you’re not a Christian!” comments far too often.

            Of course, such comments are always made on-line. I can’t remember the last time I encountered one in the real world.

            1. Raised as a CATHOLIC, I’ve gotten “you’re not a Christian” a few times. I have heard it in the real-world, even. Once face-to-face.

              1. Mom’s gotten it in Christian book stores.

                My (Mormon) neighbor asked me if we considered ourselves Christian or not; he’d recently been in a discussion with someone who said something like “the Mormons, the Catholics and the Christians….” *(We decided that he meant something like “the small or non-denominational Christians that are fairly close in teachings.”)

                1. I have encountered self-describing Christians who describe Catholics and Mormons as non-Christians (as in, “I used to be Mormon, but now I’m a Christian”).

                  I always get a bit bemused by this- from my (Jewish) perspective, they all look like Christians, but what do I know? Apparently differences are a lot bigger when viewed close-up. Let that be your last battlefield, indeed.

                  This is why I rely on self-declaration: if you call yourself a Christian, then I will call you one too.

                    1. Point made. Some Jews for Jesus are Jewish according to Jewish law, a substantial number are not, and their theology is (ahem) not mainstream Jewish theology. They generally don’t get lumped in the box with other Jewish denominations.

                  1. Wasn’t intill (I want to say 9th or 10th centuray A.D.) that a lot of the world viewed or considered Christians as a sect of Judaism.

                    So, this who is and who isn’t a true scotsman is a old argument.

                    1. In the first century AD, there would be plenty of people who consider Christians a sect of Judaism (the Jews of that time likely didn’t) but by the time that Christianity (around 300 AD) became legal in the Roman Empire, few considered it a sect of Judaism.

              2. If they call the master of the house Beelzebub how much more the members of his household?

    2. It is entirely legitimate for a church to define what its membership consists of. Just as it is entirely legitimate for SFWA to define what constitutes a professional writer and exclude Aunt Toots and all others who do not qualify. A group that has no qualifications often has no purpose.

      For instance, you can’t qualify for SFWA for your graphic novel and comic book work. One reason for this is that the markets are so very different that really, it would amount to having two different purposes shoehorned into one organization with very little overlap.

      1. Agreed — those are pertinent professional standards.

        But they should not bar people for “thoughtcrime” unless they rename themselves the LSFWA, or PSFWA or SJWSFWA or even the GHHSFWA. If their purpose is to certify “Socially Responsible” writers they ought abide by truth in labeling laws.

        Nor ought they ban, for example, Otto Binder even though the bulk of his writing was in comics. Which brings to mind early recognition of Neil Gaiman based on his Sandman oeuvre.

  19. For some reason this has brought to mind Thomas Jefferson’s Query XVII of Notes on the State of Virginia which, while addressing the issue of religious conscience, address the issue of general freedom of private thought:

    The error seems not sufficiently eradicated, that the operations of the mind, as well as the acts of the body, are subject to the coercion of the laws. But our rulers can have authority over such natural rights only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to our God. The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. If it be said, his testimony in a court of justice cannot be relied on, reject it then, and be the stigma on him. Constraint may make him worse by making him a hypocrite, but it will never make him a truer man. It may fix him obstinately in his errors, but will not cure them. Reason and free enquiry are the only effectual agents against error. Give a loose to them, they will support the true religion, by bringing every false one to their tribunal, to the test of their investigation. They are the natural enemies of error, and of error only. Had not the Roman government permitted free enquiry, Christianity could never have been introduced. Had not free enquiry been indulged, at the aera of the reformation, the corruptions of Christianity could not have been purged away. If it be restrained now, the present corruptions will be protected, and new ones encouraged. Was the government to prescribe to us our medicine and diet, our bodies would be in such keeping as our souls are now. Thus in France the emetic was once forbidden as a medicine, and the potatoe as an article of food.

    1. That may be, but Jefferson was writing before the income tax and its exemptions for religious organizations. Had he lived in a community where all property save his was owned by churches he might have reached a different conclusion about pockets being picked.

      As most churches are social welfare organizations I expect their charitable contributions would suffice to exempt their income from taxes, but in some places they occupy very valuable property indeed. Thus we can be confident that there are those scheming to attach those estates for the public weal. (With only incidentally a few secondary benefits accruing to their personal status.)

  20. I’ve probably been pretty rabid about this, for the following reasons, because of course MZB was a seminal or influential figure in most of my original fandoms, or on other people who were. So it’s particularly offensive that her stories and actions, and the favors she did, may not have been just hypocritical, but actually “grooming” of potential targets and coverup for potential suspicions.

  21. Here’s a perfect example of the idiot-gap in motion. A supposedly anti-oppression post starts out skewering “white men fearful of the shifting culture.”

    When you’re at that level of stupid – the racist anti-racist – you may as well be a tree stump. But that’s SFWA in a nutshell.

    Throw in the fact that L. Correia had to deal with some dipshit woman who wears her “assault” on her sleeve like a campaign ribbon, and yes, George Will was right. QUILTBAGs have created a culture that obviously and demonstrably encourages lying. In QUILTBAG culture, it’s not lying, cuz white men are guilty anyway. Remember what the co-organizer of WisCon’s racially segregated space once Tweeted:

    “The truth about which white people are innocent of racist acts? Yeah, I’ll admit to not caring about that.” – Jaymee Goh.

    Got that? All white people are guilty, especially men. And if that’s so, how can Goh, in her own mind, ever really lie? How can any intersectionalist ever lie? Their facts, research, and history consists of one thing and one thing only: straight white male – case closed. Conversely, what level of immorality does one need to attain to before any “feminist” is ever really guilty as an individual?

    SFWA should change their name to Race/Gender Double-Standards, Inc., because what you’re up against is court documents equaling being straight white male. THAT’S QUILTBAG “equality.”

    1. With such folk, start with the conclusion (a century ago it was “Black men guilty, now it is White men guilty) and work backwards to the cause.

      It is why parodying them is absurdly easy.

  22. At one point I was reading a book where some great detective– sorry, really can’t remember who, Sherlock or some other great man who solved all sorts of mysteries– was coming out of a “Mystery” show, extremely mad. His objection was that the author of the play had cheated; the clues that the detective used to find the solution were never given to the audience.

    I feel the same way about most thought experiments, including the classic one that Jason used; they set the limits to fit what they want to happen, and then they can break them at will. A false choice that applies only to those being challenged, since even if it’s not explicit the form of “this or that” means you’re supposed to be limited to the offered choices.

    Really, really hate “thought experiments” and “hypotheticals” of that sort.

    1. Better to present an argument based on principles all can live by, especially if one can use one’s opponents own stated principles against them. And in this case, we most certainly can.

      I frankly don’t see any point to pedantic arguments about secretive and anomalous sexual assaults within the context of SFF except insofar as they demonstrate a larger breakdown in fair play in how they are discussed. This is the internet. Unless a thing is sourced, anybody can say anything. And even if it is sourced in a conviction, are we a law enforcement community or criminal justice system? There are no hard fast rules to deal with the aftermath in terms of a literature.

      Corriea’s original response to the beauty contestant was in HOW solutions were discussed, not WHAT solutions were discussed, though it quickly morphed into the latter. “How” reveals prejudice and bias on a wide-spread cultural level. “What” tells us very little if you’re not a cop, prosecutor or academic assembling statistics.

    2. For what it’s worth, most “thought experiments” of the type you decry are not meant to have “satisfactory” solutions; they’re rather like the Kobayashi Maru in that respect — they’re not meant to be “solvable”, they’re meant to make you examine your reactions to unsolveable dilemmas and force you to prioritize your lesser and greater evils. Or, for another geeky reference, they’re meant to be like the Global Thermonuclear War simulations in War Games, and make you see: A STRANGE GAME. THE ONLY WAY TO WIN IS NOT TO PLAY. Objecting that there is no “viable solution” deducible from the parameters of the experiment is kind of to miss the point.

      That doesn’t make such things less annoying, certainly, but for me it is helpful to look at them this way: as lenses by which to perceive a dilemma, not instructions by which to solve it.

      1. For what it’s worth, most “thought experiments” of the type you decry are not meant to have “satisfactory” solutions; they’re rather like the Kobayashi Maru in that respect — they’re not meant to be “solvable”, they’re meant to make you examine your reactions to unsolveable dilemmas and force you to prioritize your lesser and greater evils.

        You’re nicer than I am.

        I think they’re meant to flatter the biases of the person that set them up, by forcing everyone else to accept and pick sides in the field they choose, like the detective story that is only mysterious because they didn’t show you what the detective found, heard, researched, etc.

        Not to be confused with thought experiments that are more like metaphors– which, by definition, can’t have the “you can only do this or you can only do that” qualifier, and are the basis of most if not all fiction.

    3. I’m glad I’m not the only one.

      “Do you do this or that?”

      Well, you lose unless you do something that’s neither. Makes me want to punch the designer of the test.

      1. Incidentally, in real-world situations, I often DO take an alternate path to a solution, but when it’s presented with a limited number of choices, and asked which do I choose, I will choose amongst the ones given, therefore, their test is irrelevant to me.

  23. About the line marriages and other odd arrangements of sf fans: I always interpreted that as trying too hard to be sexual. There seems to be a tendency in the larger culture to think of intellectually oriented people as being essentially asexual. (I’m not entirely sure the larger culture is completely wrong, either). Thus, it’s not surprising that many sf geeks go way overboard to try to prove the opposite.

    1. It’s less about proving themselves as sexual beings as it is identifying themselves to be different from the “normals”. Scifi and fantasy fandom tends to run towards the odd and a little smarter than the general population (although certainly not wiser!). Bizarre relationship geometry is a way of trying to find acceptance in some group. My experience is that the people in these relationships also gravitate towards esoteric or little known religions, or are plain out atheist/agnostic. There’s also quite a bit of arrogance as well. “I’m so much smarter than the rest of society that I can make this work.” or “I’m so much smarter than the rest of society that I know my theories are correct, despite the fact that they contradict what everyone else thinks.”

      1. Some personal experience that backs up your observation: I used to participate a lot in an RPG gaming forum (I still hang out there but now mostly lurk), and at one point I participated in a survey of the board members’ religious affiliations. Fully 40% of the respondents considered themselves “atheist or agnostic” and another 20% considered themselves some variety of neopagan or esoteric. Only 20%, including me, explicitly identified themselves as some denomination of Christian — I don’t remember what the last 20% was.

        The experience of realizing that in this community I had once loved, I was now not only a minority by virtue of my faith but rapidly becoming a disliked minority, was one of the most disheartening of my life — it was right up there with realizing, at some point during university when a lot of the people I was doing amateur acting with turned out to be, shall we say, significantly flawed of character in many ways, that just because you were smart, charismatic talented and creative didn’t necessarily make you a good and nice person. (I had a very sheltered and lucky upbringing and was quite monumentally naive in my youth.)

        Still, it occurs to me that philosophical justifications and desire to prove oneself different notwithstanding as real motives, it should also be remembered that sexual libertinism is very often a popular philosophy entirely for its own sake, once people realize it’s an option. “Trying too hard to be sexual” is about reinforcing your self- and public image; trying simply to get some sex is a lot more basic and universal, and a lot easier to become less ashamed of if everybody around you is doing the same thing and encouraging everyone else to try.

  24. Regards the tarring of others with the same brush, I repeat my comment that I made here.

    I think that there would be three different kinds of people who had professional relationships with MZB.

    The first, the kind who had nothing but professional relationships; and did not interact with MZB outside of the writing field or outside the publishing field. This is not hard to imagine, as distance is still a factor, especially in those times, where snail mail and phone calls are the only way to go for communication. There may have been nearly no meeting her in person outside of conventions or writers’ symposiums, as well. This likely extends to a large number of her fans back in the day.

    The second are the ones who knew her personally as well, but did not know her well enough to be included in the ‘inner circles’, thus likely did not know her proclivities (or knew her as a writer mentor, but no more than that) and lastly

    the third group, who knew her professionally, personally and were included in her inner circle, and knew everything but kept quiet because of their Cause.

    (Cause being whatever reason why they kept quiet.)

    The TL:DR version of that is, merely being associated with her/knowing her does not necessarily mean that that person / group automatically knew. This extends to anyone, really, including people who associated with Kramer, Delany, etc.

    So no, I don’t agree with everyone being tarred by the same brush; that’s the game the SJWs play, and I refuse to play it.

    But the SFWA has decided to become a moral arbiter with it’s recent actions, and while your statement is fair, the SFWA is not interested in being fair, or factual, or honest. They’ve gone and run out, screaming on the Internet because heaven forbid, someone from Outside The Accepted Circle got nominated for a Hugo, and worse, someone who they actively judged! Larry is a ‘rape apologist’ for agreeing that self defense helps increase a potential victim’s not being a victim and that such is ‘victim blaming’; Vox’s name is tarred, while allowing N.K. Jemisin to spout anti-white racist statements as well as misandrist statements left and right. Calling the organization on the double standards they are constantly and loudly upholding is not a witch-hunt, it’s pointing out the double standard.

    If NAMBLA and its’ advocacy of the allowance and ‘legalization’ and ‘social acceptance’ of adult-child ‘love’ and ‘sex’ is evil, then Delany openly advocates an evil practice; and that’s not in a fictional portrayal any more. He’s pushing for something that is seen as outright evil (outside of Islam) right now, in a present day setup. NAMBLA itself quotes Delany on their site. (Found it in Google by accident the other day, and I’m not going back there again, so I apologize for not linking.)

    And yeah, I can actually understand the ‘being exposed to child molestation, but not knowing what that is.’ I was a kid of 6-7 years old when I saw my best friend ‘sitting’ in her stepfather’s lap, wearing nothing but a camisole. I had no idea what that was until someone (here, I believe) brought up a group of people who pushed for ‘children to be encouraged in their sexuality’ in Socialist Germany during the time I lived there that it all came crashing back, and I understood. Cue me freaking out for a solid week. Around my parents, the stepfather and the mother behaved like normal people, though my parents did NOT like the stepfather because he acted like an arrogant know-it-all and didn’t bother to hide that he didn’t think we were worthy of his presence. The mother was friendly; but she and the stepfather belonged to that group of people who believed it was correct of parents to introduce their children to sex. Were they aware of it being wrong? Likely, because the mother took pains to ensure that my parents did NOT know of their beliefs. I didn’t get it either till just recently, and before anyone condemns me for ‘not reporting’ to anyone, bear in mind that to a child like me, only grownups have babies, and children can’t have babies, so only grownups have sex when married to make babies – encyclopedia abstracts do not = knowing what the hell I saw.

    … I’d like to stop remembering now, because every time I do I feel like wanting to vomit all day. But I recall the above to explain why I don’t believe the tarring of mere association, and why I think it’s possible for people to associate with someone and not know what they’re really like.

    1. He’s pushing for something that is seen as outright evil (outside of Islam) right now

      I’m not sure, but even Islam might have problems with it. Quite possibly the only thing that I would ever agree with the Taliban on was that they stamped out older male relationships with young boys in Afghanistan wherever they could. However, regardless of what Islam might or might not say about it, it’s apparently a part of the culture that’s been around for such a long time that no one cares.

      1. WRT to Islam, one merely needs to look at the actions of Mohammad on that one. His favorite wife, Aisha/Ayesha (spelling will vary) he married at the age of 6, and summoned her to his bed at the age of 9. Because this was an act by what the Muslims consider ‘the most perfect of men’; their ideal, what he did or was documented as having done is considered the correct behavior. Thus, child brides are quite accepted in Islam, especially in Islamic countries.

        But don’t take my word for it. Look up the questions directed to English-speaking Imams, and how child brides are considered in those places. I’ve formed my opinion about Islam a very long time ago, after years of my own study and examination of their practices and beliefs, not just with the Koran, but their hadiths as well.

        1. When you walk around countries like Malaysia, Turkey, Indonesia and Egypt, or parts of India with Muslim populations, it is, of course, like anywhere, easy to spot couples. There is no visual difference as far as an age gap between men and women one can spot in those places that is any different from places like New Orleans, Rio de Janeiro, Barcelona, Singapore, or Athens. In all those cases, the relative ages are within a few years of each other.

          Indonesia, Turkey and Egypt comprise almost a quarter of the world’s Muslim population. Throw in India and you’re up to 1/3. I have no reason to believe the other 2/3 are substantially different.

          Young brides may be accepted practice in a few regions or in a strictly theological sense, but the reality is that Islamic marriage patterns are much like ours in terms of age.


            I’m going to go with that because it purports to be the online source regards Islam, and seems to have a lot of links, especially regards the quotations of imams and examples given.

            But… Fail? With all due respect, I have no desire to argue with you on this topic. Foxfier and MaryC know I’ve done this one to death on Jordan179’s LJ and I’ll tell you now that my negative conclusions about Islam is one of the reasons why Chlamydia constantly attacks me in other blogs whenever he is able. It took me years of study and argument and discussion to reach my rather unhappy conclusions; and I’d rather not have to rehash a decade odd worth of arguments here on Sarah’s blog, out of respect for her. WordPress’ one link only or moderation setup is not ideal for such a discussion anyway.

            I don’t treat individual Muslims badly, if you are worried about that – I treat them no differently from other people: based on how they treat me and how they conduct themselves in general.

            1. I’m not worried about anything. If you re-read what I wrote, it takes into account a Wiki page like you presented and I don’t think we disagree. That Wiki page substantiates my quote that “Young brides may be accepted practice in a few regions or in a strictly theological sense.”

              For context, keep in mind that, for example, in Brazil, sexual “activity between an adult older than 18 and a minor aged 14 or older… are completely legal.”


              And a person who is 16 can get married in Brazil with parental consent and at 14 if they are pregnant.

              Let’s not pretend I used the word “all” or that that Wiki page does. This is not complicated: how many days would you have to walk around the city of, say, Cleveland, before you noticed whether couples are generally within a few years of each other or the men 35 and the women 20? Obviously you do not a have pattern of the latter. The same applies in most Islamic countries.

              1. If I may tease in a friendly bit of poking…

                Indonesia, Turkey and Egypt comprise almost a quarter of the world’s Muslim population. Throw in India and you’re up to 1/3. I have no reason to believe the other 2/3 are substantially different.

                I’m admittedly horrible at math, but I do enough cooking to know that 1/3 + 2/3 = 1 whole or 100% 🙂

                1. You seem to have set up the problem incorrectly.

                  Let Indonesia = I1
                  Let Turkey = T
                  Let Egypt = E
                  Let India = I2
                  Let M = all Muslims in world

                  Therefore I1 + T + E = M/4
                  I1 + T + E + I2 = M/3
                  Leading us to conclude that the population of India = M/12

                  1. You forgot “Doorknob that leads to the outside world” in your calculation. Thank you.

          2. The variety of Islam that promotes marrying small children to adult males does not promote “couples” walking along, most assuredly not where you’re going to be able to see the age of the female(s) involved.

            1. Precisely.

              You want to know what is really going on in an Islamic culture? Here’s a tip: Ignore anything you see in public vis-a-vis the relationships between the sexes. Whether it’s the dancing boys they’re hiding behind chadoors, or the little girls you never see because they aren’t allowed to leave the confines of purdah, you’re just not going to know what the hell is going on until you live behind closed doors with them. And, that’s not happening, even if you’re also Islamic as well.

              Appearances in Islam are not the reality. Ever notice you don’t see many handicapped folk in public? Or, that despite the massively higher rate of birth defects and other issues created by generations of cousin marriage, you hardly ever see visible signs of it in public? There’s a reason–Those kids may not have left the hospital alive, and if they did, they’re kept hidden away at home, and never allowed out of their confined areas. I had a very illuminating conversation with a British pediatric nurse who was working in Kuwait while I was there–Per her experience, the general rate of birth defects and other issues related to inbreeding is massively higher in the Arab world, and the effects are kept well-hidden. She had to sign releases and non-disclosure agreements before she was able to take any of her jobs in the Middle East, banning her from doing any data collection about the issue, or revealing any names.

              There are some very sick aspects to Islamic and Arab culture, by our lights. Treatment of the handicapped is only the tip of the iceberg.

              1. Using the word “precisely” at the top of your post is a laugher. “Imprecisely” is better.

                The problems people are having in places like, for example, Britain, because of Pakistani first cousin marriages are well known. Unfortunately for you I never said anything about it one way or the other.

                Your first paragraph is an amazing example of ignorance and bigotry. “Purdah”? Really? Like our intersectional QUILTBAG dingbats, it’s common for bigots to take some anomaly or urban myth and smear it all over everyone, in your case 1.5 billion Muslims.

                There are little girls running around all over the Muslim world, except one would actually have to visit the Muslim world to know that instead of spreading bizarre fantasies girls are locked away or covered in more than a tiny minority of Islam.

                Tunisia banned hijabs from 1981 to 2011 in public schools and gov’t buildings and Turkey since 1997. If even a head scarf is optional in the majority of the Muslim world, what hysteria other than bald-faced ignorance would lead you to believe women or little girls are locked away?

                Indonesia has the single largest population of Muslims, and they are almost 90% of the nation. The headscarf is completely optional. I’ve literally travelled by land from one tip of Java to the other, and girls and women are running all over the place. Same in Malaysia, same in Sumatra. From Jakarta to Cairo to Istanbul women are walking the streets in jeans so tight they look like they’re painted on.

                You want to really know what’s going on in an Islamic culture? Go visit one.

                “… you’re just not going to know what the hell is going on until you live behind closed doors with them.” Thank you for that Orwellian quote that tears your own comment to pieces.

                “Appearances in Islam are not the reality. Ever notice you don’t see many handicapped folk in public?” Where in the world did you come up with those nuggets of wisdom?

                1. Hm, ignoring the rational arguments– which utterly destroy his claimed source; assuming those who disagree have not “visited” an Islamic country, and appeal to personal experience is the ultimate evidence; accusation of “smearing” an entire population by pointing out facts that disagree with someone….

                  For bonus points, apparent ignorance about how odd Indonesian Islam is, among majority Muslim countries. Even the New York Times managed to figure that out.

                  Not worth the time to try to debate.

                  1. Nothing you just wrote makes any sense. Debate needs facts. Come back when you have some. I speak Indonesian, I’ve spent 7 mo. there on 3 trips. Please don’t wisely shake the Times at me and say something as stupid as “not worth the time.”

                    1. You know, I almost bothered to reply… but then I noticed you had, again, mischaracterized what was actually said (or simply failed to grasp it?) and managed to spike the irony meter for extra points.

                    2. Yeah, I kinda decided to stop when he pretty much snarled about there being no teasing in his world, even when it was me lightly, humorously pointing out that there kinda was a reason why I acted as if he said ‘all Muslims’.

                      Which is a shame, because he’s normally quite good about citing stuff, but this one he seems very emotional about.

                    3. *shrug* Everyone has some things they’re irrational about; sometimes it’s even a good thing, but not when one tries to force it into the place of a rational argument.

                      Highly, highly amused that he’s assuming he’s the only one who’s been to “Muslim countries.” *wry*

                    4. Yes, now we’re all amused. About the only thing you left out was flying carpets, magic lamps and cee-ment ponds.

          3. Most people in most countries marrry people roughly the same ages (I’m close to having a “child bride” since she’s 19 years younger than me — but then when we met I was 40 and she 21, so she wasn’t actually a child, or even teenager). However, you should beware of casual impressions — it is in upscale urban areas of a Third World country that the culture tends to be the most Westernized. Things may be very different in the provincial areas and slums.

            1. It is generally true that the subject we’re talking about tends more towards rural and isolated regions.

              Where did I say anything about upscale urban areas or that I have ever been limited to such places? You’ll rarely meet anyone who’s been to more hind ends of the world than I have and that includes slums and jungles with no roads where I had to walk almost 100 mi. in a week.

              I do not have casual impressions because my trips last 6 mo. and more and I have never been on a package tour or cruise. I generally learn the languages and am free to go where I please, and do, including riding motorcycles half way up volcanoes and across unfinished bridges in the middle of nowhere on a section of concrete a yard wide with only disaster if I blink.

              I don’t make it a habit of talking about stuff I don’t know anything about – personally. You might have noticed I have nothing to say about rape or child molestation. That’s because I am not in law enforcement or the criminal justice system and have no experience with such secretive crimes or wisdom to distribute.

        2. And ‘Ā’ishah bint Abī Bakr is not exactly a minor character in Muslim history — she’s the one who fought Ali at the Battle of the Camel, in the first great civil war in Muslim history. And yes, because of Muhammed’s example, almost all Muslim countries permit marriage at extremely young ages — and not all of the child brides are as favored by their husbands as was ‘Ā’ishah.

      2. Islam has to accept adult-child sex; the founder practiced it. His “favorite wife” was in single digits. (a quick search indicates there’s debate on exactly how young)

        The Taliban’s flavor seems to object to dressing boys up as (in their eyes, at least– the outfits I’ve seen definitely aren’t normal female) whores and treating them as such, though; I seem to remember something about the male terrorists who dressed as women only being able to do so because they were doing it for jihad.

        1. RE: The Taliban – not exactly.

          What they explicitly dropped the hammer on was the practice of pairing off a young boy as the long-term “companion” of an older man. It’s apparently common in parts of Afghanistan. And I think it also exists in parts of the Arab world as well, though I’m not as certain about that.

          1. Selling “dancing boys.” Some sort of a BB name, but “dancing boys” brings it up.

            Sell little boys to older men who dress them up in female garb (gets less attention than the rest) and abuse them (in multiple ways), sometimes up to and including death.

        2. Also, pederasty has long been an Afghan custom. I’ve read old Pathan freaking poetry (in translation, of course) going on about “peach-bottomed heavy-lidded beautiful boys.”

      3. There’s a huge hypocrisy in Islam. On the one hand, Muslims are puritanical and disapprove of all non-marital sex, at least in theory. On the other hand, they have all kinds of ways (including one-night “marriages”) of getting around this prohibition.

        Since men can’t marry one another, Muslims theoretically hate homosexuality and officially male-male sex is punishable by death or other severe consequences in much of the Muslim world. On the other hand, the custom of older men taking multiple wives creates a dearth of young females for young males to court, resulting in a surplus of horny young men with no women to wed. Meaning an increase in homosexuality.

        1. Again: Islam = 1.5 billion people. “One night ‘marriages'” = Islam? No.

          “Multiple wives?” Extremely rare, so – it is NOT a “custom.” Polygny is legally restricted in many Islamic countries and for decades.

          1. “Many” do “restrict” polygamy. That’s not the same as prohibiting it. Far from it. As for “extremely rare”, citation needed.

    2. It’s not necessarily easy to figure out even if you were the recipient, especially if it was borderline. I was probably mildly molested (I say probably because while I have a couple of clear memories I do know of false memories and how easily we sometimes form them and so can’t, in good conscience, swear that they are true) but didn’t figure it out until I was in my 20’s. Just touching in certain areas, most of which could have been maybe done without a sexual intent but with one case which was clear enough, in adult hindsight, that I could say there was no chance an adult man would have done it to a child unless he had at least some pedophile tendencies. And that time he cut what he had started to do short very abruptly and left the room. So I assume a man who felt that way, and was tempted, but could control himself at least to some extent. When it happened – I remember it as having been very confusing because I had no idea why he was acting so strange, and I felt embarrassed, and wondered if it was because I had done something, and then I tried my best not to think about it afterwards. And because I was embarrassed of course I never told any adults about it.

      Whether it affected me, frankly, I don’t know. He wasn’t somebody I was in a frequent contact with. I have some problems being touched and have a low sex drive, but that could be something I was born with.

      1. I thought they were false memories too for my part – till I called my mother to recall that time period, because I clearly remembered describing to her that my best friend’s mother would scold her husband for walking around in the nude in my presence, chiding that I wasn’t used to it. She remembered that and recalled that they had to explain to me what a nudist was, and remembered me describing that they would all bathe together (I slept over once and even went on a trip to the farm with them, but on the trip the stepfather did not go and the children were more… relaxed, especially around their biological father.) She also recalled me being puzzled about something my friend said, about not liking to sit in her stepfather’s lap, ‘because his hair was too rough.’ As a kid, I definitely did not understand.

        1. One of the facts which somewhat confirms those memories is that a childhood friend says she remembers that I would frequently complain about that male relative, as somebody who’d tickle me often, and that I didn’t like it, to her back then.

          1. Yeah. My mother remembered that I did NOT like the stepfather. In fact, neither my best friend or her younger brother liked the stepfather at all and they would often try to stay at my house for as long as they could. Mom also remembered that when I went back home after the visit to the farm, that I recounted that the two kids wished to me that they could stay with their biological father (she even used geburtsvater.)

    3. I didn’t get it either till just recently, and before anyone condemns me for ‘not reporting’ to anyone, bear in mind that to a child like me, only grownups have babies, and children can’t have babies, so only grownups have sex when married to make babies – encyclopedia abstracts do not = knowing what the hell I saw.

      At 6-7 most children, including me, wouldn’t have realized what was actually going on. Children tend to be innocent, even if they theoretically understand sex from books about it (both my wife and myself got book-based sex education early, and were alarmingly innocent as children — I didn’t know her when she was a child, but she’s told me about herself at that age).

    1. Yes, that’s true. In the 18th-19th centuries, when the concept of the “age of consent” first became important, it was generally set around 10-12, which was the youngest the lawmakers could possibly believe that a girl could physically have sex without being seriously injured by it. Since then it has crept up to 14-18, often at the exact same time when the actual average age of loss of virginity was creeping down. Now, in most States of America, it’s 16-18 — and a vast percentage of the adult male population is probably guilty of statutory rape, in consequence.

      MZB was raping her own daughter starting around age 3 though, and I’m not aware of any human society that considered sexual intercourse with 3-year-old girls to be okay!

  25. We had that debate. They won. We shall hold them to the standard they fought for and established.

    And thank you for reminding me why I ran away from the SCA, screaming. In my home area, members were ordinary people with an unusual hobby. Then I went to college… (shudder)

    1. I was active in local SCA for over a decade. Most members here at the time were university students, most history nerds, and most pretty normal. And some normal behavior for that age, there was occasional heavy partying by some members. After that – still lots of same members who now have families, and things seem to have gotten a lot more sedate. I will probably try to get back in at some point, I have friends who are still members and it’s a nice hobby, plus it’s easy to get help there for all kinds of research, half of the members are people who will tell you the exact details of the research papers (and how to find those papers) from which they lifted the design, and the cloth type, and decorations, and how to make them, for that Viking age tunic they are wearing (bog finds, probably).

    2. It’s funny. I found myself wincing when I saw MZB’s name on the spine of a book on my bookshelf, and ended up pulling them all off my bookshelves and tossing them in a “decide how to get rid of them” pile… but I don’t feel the same about the SCA. I never joined, but I was always interested in joining — and learning about MZB’s role in the SCA’s founding hasn’t altered that interest one bit. (Of course, if I joined and found it was full of… problematic people… that might make me run away screaming; the point is that knowing about MZB hasn’t affected how I feel about the SCA.)

      I’m guessing I feel that way because her books were her direct creation, and so her influence is all over them — whereas the SCA is not something she created. She may have had a hand in its beginnings, but there were (and are) so many other people involved that her actual influence, at least by now, is minimal (if any even remains at all).

      1. Many small groups in the SCA. So whether you’d find a good one or a bad one or something in between is up to luck. At least the ones I have known here during about 25 years keep changing, if some more obnoxious individuals get into the one in an area they can drive most of the nicer ones out until what is left is more or less unpleasant – then after some years they may get tired and start drifting off themselves, and new ones come in, and maybe some of the old ones become active again, and suddenly the group is just nice again (locally, the occasional problems have been mostly the party animal types, but they usually do get tired and drift to some other hobbies after a few years). 🙂

        1. In this case, a good chunk of them lived together in some sort of nontraditional arrangement, and the ones I had the most contact with had a very difficult time distinguishing between their flights of fantasy and reality.
          I understand that most groups aren’t like that, but you know what they say about cats that sit down on hot stoves.

        2. The group I’m associated with is pretty good. Solid people, for the most part, tons of them dedicated to some extent to learning about the styles and pastimes of the era that their persona is from, and willing to help out their fellow man in need.

  26. A lot of this post and in the comments that followed is things I wanted to point out in the last post authored by Jason, but I was being a bit a a coward. I didn’t want to start up an old argument, so I didn’t comment and point out that not one person knows what truly happened or what MZB really new and thought.

    Anyone that has ever interview witnesses after an event can tell you this.

    Ambaguity! Most people don’t deal with it very well. So we tell ourselves things are true that we have noway if verifying. Insteed of saying, “This is what most likely happended.” We say, “This is what happended!” Once you make a declarative statement, the mind moves the thought from this must be analyzed and considered to this is a fact column. Do to some cognitive biases this make the mind less fluid and less likely to change even if when presented with new contradicting information or evidence.

    FYI – A couple of good books on this:

    “Psychology of Intelligence Analysis” by Richards Heuer

    “de Bono’s Thinking Course”

    The mind is like s complex instrument that takes skill to full use to the best of it’s ability. Skills that can be honed with practice; as to be able to see the world clearer, so we can make better choices.

    Make choices! Believe or not believe things, but most of life’s bad choices are do to a failure of perception not logic. GIGO

    Bur at some point we still must go this is good enough and act or make our decision. If not we can let the uncertainty of life paralyze us into indecision.

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